Houthis warn ‘any country’ that acts against them will be hit in Red Sea

A top Houthi official on Tuesday warned that any country that acts against Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia will have its ships targeted in the Red Sea.

“Any country that moves against us will have its ships targeted in the Red Sea,” Mohammed Ali al-Houthi said in a televised interview with Iran’s al-Alam television.

The United States said earlier on Tuesday it was setting up a task force of ships to protect shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, key trading routes, to protect shipping from the rising number of attacks launched by the Houthis.

The Houthis said in a statement on Tuesday that the international coalition formed by the US to protect maritime navigation in the Red Sea is part of the aggression against the Palestinian people, adding that the coalition contradicts international law.

“We affirm our steadfast position in supporting the Palestinian people until Israel’s aggression ends, and siege on the Gaza strip is lifted”, the statement reads.

The Houthi militant group, which controls vast amounts of territory in Yemen after years of war, has since last month fired drones and missiles at international vessels sailing through the Red Sea.

“Yemen’s armed forces don’t represent any threat to any country, we only target Israeli ships or ships heading toward Israeli ports”, it added.

The Houthis have stepped up attacks in response to Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip, forcing oil major BP and freight firms including Maersk to avoid the area.

The US, European Union, NATO and several countries, including Yemen, issued a joint statement on Tuesday condemning “Houthi interference with navigational rights and freedoms” amid attacks in the Red Sea.

“The undersigned further encourage all states to refrain from facilitation or encouragement of the Houthis. There is no justification for these attacks, which affect many countries beyond the flags these ships sail under,” the signatories to the statement said.

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