Yemen’s Houthis damage oil tanker, shoot down US drone

MV Andromeda Star suffers damage and MQ-9 Reaper drone shot down in latest escalation by the Houthis.

A US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone, one of the newest and most expensive in the US military arsenal, sits in a hanger at Amari Air Base, Estonia, on July 1, 2020 [Janis Laizans/Reuters]Published On 27 Apr 202427 Apr 2024

Yemen’s Houthis have damaged an oil tanker and downed another MQ-9 Reaper drone of the United States as they promise more attacks in opposition to Israel’s war on Gaza.

The Iran-aligned group’s military spokesman, Yahya Saree, said in his latest televised video address early on Saturday that “British oil ship Andromeda Star” was targeted in the Red Sea with naval missiles and was directly hit.

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The US military confirmed that the group fired three antiship ballistic missiles into the Red Sea at multiple targets and damaged MV Andromeda Star. The vessel was recently sold to a company registered in the Seychelles, Reuters reported.

“MV Andromeda Star reports minor damage, but is continuing its voyage,” the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a post on X, adding there were no injuries or damage reported by the maritime military coalition led by the US that is deployed in the area to counter attacks from Yemen.

The Houthi military spokesman also said its air defence forces in Yemen also shot down an MQ-9 Reaper attack drone of the US military with a missile in the airspace of the Saada governorate “while it was carrying out hostile missions”.

The US military did not comment on the drone, but US broadcaster CBS News confirmed that an MQ-9, which costs about $30m, “crashed” inside Yemen early on Friday and said an investigation is under way.

This is the third US attack drone shot down by the Houthis since the start of the war on Gaza, with the first brought down in November, followed by another in February.

The Yemeni group made no comments about further attacks on vessels in its nearby waterways, but the US military said the anti-ship missiles fired by the Houthis also targeted MV MAISHA, an Antigua/Barbados-flagged, Liberia-operated vessel. It reported no damage.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) also confirmed two attacks on a vessel – which appears to be MV Andromeda Star – some 14 nautical miles (26km) southwest of al-Mukha (Mocha) in Yemen.

It said a first explosion happened “in close proximity” to the vessel and a second attack, consisting of what is believed to be two missiles, damaged the vessel.

The Houthi military had reported targeting “Israeli ship MSC Darwin” in the Gulf of Aden on Friday, adding that it launched a number of missiles and drones at targets in the southern Israeli port city of Eilat.

On Thursday, the group had launched an attack on the US-flagged, owned and operated Maersk Yorktown, along with Israeli-linked ship MSC Veracruz, with US and UK warships defending.

The reinvigorated military activity by the Yemeni group comes after weeks of a relative lull when the number of attacks had dropped.

Translation: On the third day after 200 days of war, renewed crowds filled al-Sabeen Square in the capital Sanaa in loyalty and support for Gaza in a march “With Gaza, pride and mobilisation”.

But the group’s leader, Abdel-Malik al-Houthi, in a speech on Friday rejected the notion that the decreased attacks are related to weakened military capabilities and promised that more attacks will be coming.

He also told large numbers of demonstrators in the capital, Sanaa, and elsewhere in a televised address that “a new theatre of confrontation” has opened up as the Houthis are now targeting ships in the Indian Ocean as well.

Houthis say they will stop the attacks in one of the world’s busiest maritime routes, demanding Israel stop its war on Gaza. The Houthi attacks have disrupted global trade and affected traffic at Israel’s Eilat port.

People in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen have been protesting in large numbers every Friday since the start of the war to express solidarity with Palestinians and condemn Israel and its Western allies.

The Houthis initially targeted only Israeli-linked ships passing through the Bab al-Mandeb strait but expanded to include US and UK ships after Washington and London carried out attacks on Yemen.

Houthi-run media reported that “millions” more took to the streets in governorates across Yemen this Friday as well.

Source: Al Jazeera