US denies Yemen’s Houthis claim of attack on US military cargo ship
The armed group says it conducted its attack on the Ocean Jazz in response to US and UK attacks on Houthi positions.
The bulk carrier Gibraltar Eagle is seen off Kristiansand, Norway, June 29, 2023. Houthi rebels fired a missile striking the US-owned ship on Monday, January 15, 2024, just off the coast of Yemen in the Gulf of Aden [AP Photo]Published On 22 Jan 202422 Jan 2024
The United States has rejected a claim made by Yemen’s Houthi rebels that they attacked the US military cargo ship Ocean Jazz in the Gulf of Aden.
“The Iranian-backed Houthi terrorists’ report of an alleged successful attack on M/V Ocean Jazz is patently false,” the US Naval Forces Central Command said in a statement on Monday. “NAVCENT has maintained constant communications with M/V Ocean Jazz throughout its safe transit.”
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The Iran-aligned armed group, which controls much of Yemen, did not say when or precisely where the attack took place, or if any damage was caused.
“The Yemeni Armed Forces affirm that retaliation against American and British attacks is inevitable, and any new aggression will not go unpunished,” the Houthis said earlier in a statement.
British maritime security firm Ambrey said the vessel named by the Houthis on Monday had been contracted by the US military.
US and United Kingdom forces have launched attacks across Yemen against Houthi forces in recent weeks in response to months of Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping that the Iran-backed fighters say is a response to Israel’s war on Gaza.
Since November, the Houthis have attacked dozens of commercial vessels navigating on the Red Sea, disrupting international maritime trade.
The group initially said it was attacking vessels affiliated with Israel, but has since widened its targets to include vessels linked to the US and UK. The Houthis say their attacks in the Red Sea are part of their support for Palestinians under siege and bombardment by Israeli forces in Gaza for more than three months.
Israel’s bombing campaign and ground offensive in Gaza have killed more than 25,000 people, mostly women and children, according to Palestinian officials in the territory.
Israel launched the assault and imposed a siege on Gaza after Hamas fighters carried out a surprise attack on southern Israel on October 7, killing at least 1,139 people, according to an Al Jazeera tally based on official Israeli statistics. Some 240 others were seized as captives during the attack.
So far, Houthi activity has been concentrated in the narrow strait of Bab al-Mandeb, which connects the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea. Approximately 50 ships sail through the strait daily, heading to and from the Suez Canal – a key artery for global maritime trade.
Some of the world’s largest shipping companies have suspended transit in the region, forcing vessels to sail around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.