By Reuters and the Daily Mail
Navy destroyer USS Mason was fired on again Saturday evening or Sunday morning Yemen time, two US officials said.
The ship deployed countermeasures and was not struck, according to NBC News.
This is the third time the ship, which is in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, has been targeted by Houthi-rebel controlled areas this week, according to reports.
Yemen is roiled by internal fighting between the rebels and those loyal to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
The USS Mason, a Navy destroyer, has been targeted three times in the past week by rebel controlled areas of Yemen
The US military launched cruise missiles on Thursday against three coastal radar sites in areas of Yemen controlled by Iran-aligned Houthi forces, after failed missile attacks this week on a U.S. Navy destroyer, US officials said.
Pentagon spokesperson Peter Cook said in a statement: ‘The United States will respond to any further threat to our ships and commercial traffic, as appropriate, and will continue to maintain our freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, the Bab al-Mandeb, and elsewhere around the world.’
Yemen’s Houthi movement condemned the strikes and Iran announced it had sent two warships to the Gulf of Aden, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency, establishing a military presence in waters off Yemen.
The US missile strikes, authorized by President Barack Obama, represent Washington’s first direct military action against suspected Houthi-controlled targets in Yemen’s conflict and raised questions about the potential for further escalation.
‘The whole area is a tinder box now,’ said John Dalby of Marine Risk Management Ltd, which provides private armed security teams for ships in the area, told Reuters in 2015.
The USS Mason has so far taken ‘countermeasures’ and not been struck by missiles, but the Pentagon fired upon radar sites
The Pentagon, however, stressed the limited nature of the strikes, aimed at radar that enabled the launch of at least three missiles against the US Navy ship USS Mason on Sunday and Wednesday.
‘These limited self-defense strikes were conducted to protect our personnel, our ships and our freedom of navigation,’ Cook said.
In a news conference later, Cook said the strikes were not connected to the broader civil war in Yemen, which has unleashed famine and killed more than 10,000 people since March 2015 in the Arab world’s poorest country.
Kidnappings of foreigners have escalated since the conflict kicked into high gear in March of last year. Two unidentified Americans were just released Saturday into Oman after complex negotiations.
The UU military said U.S. Navy destroyer USS Nitze launched the Tomahawk cruise missiles around 4am (0100 GMT) at radar sites located in remote areas where the risk of civilian casualties was low.
One US official identified the areas in Yemen where the radar were located as near Ras Isa, north of Mukha and near Khoka.
The Houthi movement, which has denied being responsible for the missile attacks on the Mason, warned that it too would defend itself.
US Navy Fire Controlman 1st Class Jorge Correa scans for threats on the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason in Bahrain on September 1
‘The direct American attack targeting Yemeni soil this morning is not acceptable,’ Brigadier General Sharaf Luqman, a spokesman for Yemeni forces fighting alongside the Houthis, was quoted as saying by the Houthi-controlled Saba news agency.
Iran, which supports the Houthi group, said it had deployed two warships to the Gulf of Aden, to protect ship lanes from piracy. An Iranian official told Reuters the vessels were deployed a few days ago, but declined to say when they will arrive.
The failed missile attacks on the USS Mason appeared to be part of the reaction to a suspected Saudi-led strike on mourners gathered in Yemen’s Houthi-held capital Sanaa last week.
The Houthis, who are battling the internationally-recognized government of Yemen President Abd Rabbu Mansour al-Hadi, denied the missiles were fired from areas under their control, a news agency controlled by the group quoted a military source as saying.
The allegations were false pretexts to ‘escalate aggression and cover up crimes committed against the Yemeni people,’ the source said.
US officials have told Reuters there were growing indications that Houthi fighters, or forces aligned with them, were responsible for the attempted strikes, in which coastal cruise missiles designed to target ships failed to reach the destroyer.
The USS Mason has been fired on in the the Bab al-Mandab Strait off Yemen, on of the world’s busiest shipping routes
UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, stumbles as he inspects the destroyed funeral hall, two days after an alleged Saudi-led airstrikes targeted it, in Sana’a
Senator John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the missiles fired at the USS Mason were likely provided by Iran.
The missile incidents, along with an October 1 strike on a vessel from the United Arab Emirates, add to questions about safety of passage for military ships around the Bab al-Mandab Strait, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.
Millions of barrels of oil pass through the route every day.
The Houthis, who are allied to Hadi’s predecessor Ali Abdullah Saleh, have the support of many army units and control most of the north, including the capital Sanaa.
The Pentagon warned against any future attacks.
‘The United States will respond to any further threat to our ships and commercial traffic, as appropriate,’ Cook said.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), a leading member of a Saudi-led Arab coalition fighting to end Houthi control, denounced the attacks on the Mason as an attempt to target the freedom of navigation and to inflame the regional situation.
Michael Knights, an expert on Yemen’s conflict at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, suggested the Houthis, fighters from a Shi’ite sect, could be becoming more militarily aligned with groups such as Lebanon’s Shi’ite militant group Hezbollah.
‘Targeting U.S. warships is a sign that the Houthis have decided to join the axis of resistance that currently includes Lebanese Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran,’ Knight said.
On October 8, between 70 and 140 people were killed in a funeral hall in the Yemen capital of Sana’a after being attacked by a Saudi-led coalition, which then admitted it had ‘bad information,’ according to BBC News.
Tags: Ali Abdullah Saleh, Bab-el-Mandeb, cruise missiles, Gulf of Aden, Hamas, Hezbollah, Houthis, Iran, Jamie McGoldrick, John McCain, Lebanese, Lebanon, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, Red Sea, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Tomahawk missiles, U.S. Navy, UAE, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, United Arab Emirates, US Navy, USS Mason, Yemen, Yemen President Abd Rabbu Mansour al-Hadi