10/13/2016, 10.30
YEMEN - S. ARABIA - USA
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The United States hits Houthi rebels radar stations in Yemen

The attack is a response to the launch of missiles against a US destroyer. The rockets fired from rebel held territory. Pentagon spokesman: "defensive" actions to protect American shipping interests. Houthi leader counters: There was no attack on warships.

 

Sana'a (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The US military has hit radar sites in Yemen, after an American warship in the Red Sea was targeted - for the second time in a few days - by a missile attack.

According to the Pentagon, three radar sites involved in the recent missile launches were destroyed; the stations were located in areas controlled by the Shiite Houthi rebels and President Barack Obama authorized the operation.

A Houthi spokesman told Saba news agency said that there was no attack on warships.

Official US Navy sources explain that the US attack was launched from the USS Nitze destroyer and Tomahawk cruise missiles were used.

Pentagon spokesman, Peter Cook, spoke of "a defensive attack" launched with the sole purpose of "protecting our personnel, our ships and our freedom of navigation in this important maritime hub". "The United States - he added - will respond appropriately to any new future threat to our ships and maritime commerce."

October 9 last two missiles in the direction of the USS Mason from the port of Al-Hudaydah on the Red Sea, controlled by Shiite rebels linked to Tehran. The rockets fell in the water before hitting the target and caused no damage or injuries. A similar attack also occurred yesterday and triggered the US Navy reaction.

Since January 2015, Yemen has been the scene of a bloody internal conflict pitting the country’s Sunni leaders, backed by Riyadh, against Shia Houthi rebels, close to Iran.

In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition began air strikes against the rebels in an attempt to free the capital Sana'a and bring back then exiled President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi. So far the air campaign – criticised by the UN - has killed at least 6,600 people, mostly civilians and many children. At least 2.5 million people have been displaced from their homes.

The Saudi coalition -  the center of an independent international investigation into claims "a third" of their air strikes hit civilian targets – benefits from US logistical and intelligence support. However, in recent times the relationship has cooled (at least according to official channels) precisely because of the high number of civilian casualties.

The last case concerns an air raid on the wake of the father of a senior Houthi; in the attack - also strongly condemned by the United Nations - over 140 people were killed. Riyadh has not officially claimed direct responsibility in the affair, into which an internal investigation has been opened, however it has offered to provide medical assistance to the wounded.

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