US warship shoots down bomber drones amidst Houthi terrorist attack in the Red Sea

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Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis attacked three merchant vessels Sunday and directed drones toward an American warship, according to U.S. Central Command. Fortunately for the civilian ships, the USS Carney made quick work of destroying the enemy craft.

Houthi forces, dropped from the list of foreign terrorist organizations by the Biden administration, have indicated that ships associated with Israel attempting to transit the Bab al-Mandeb strait constitute "legitimate" targets for additional attacks.

This threat from Hamas' allies has far-reaching implications, especially since the strait, connecting the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea, is one of the world's busiest shipping routes.

The players

CENTCOM indicated that there were four attacks Sunday against three different commercial vessels operating in international waters in the southern Red Sea.

The ships targeted by the terrorists were the Unity Explorer, a bulk carrier sailing under the flag of the Bahamas, which CENTCOM indicated was British-owned but shipping site noted is owned by the Tel Aviv-based Ray Shipping; the Number 9, a Bermudan and British-owned container ship sailing under the Panamanian flag; and the Sophie II, another Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier with a multinational crew.

According to the Associated Press, Houthis claimed responsibility for two of the attacks.

Houthis are a Shia military group that was recognized by the Trump administration as a terrorist organization. They kicked off the Yemen civil war in 2014 when they seized the capital city of Sanaa and ousted the government. The Houthis presently control the western portion of the country, which hems the Red Sea.

In President Joe Biden's first days in office, his administration removed the Houthis from the list of foreign terrorist organizations, to the satisfaction of the U.N.

Houthi attacks have increase since the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks on Israel. For instance, on Nov. 26, two ballistic missiles fired from Houthi-controlled Yemen landed near the USS Mason. Rebels also seized the Liberian-flagged Central Park.

Houthis have also launched anti-Israeli attacks in recent weeks "to help the Palestinians to victory," reported Reuters.

The latest attacks

At 9:15 a.m., the USS Carney, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer that had been patrolling international waters, detected an anti-ship ballistic missile attack fired from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen toward the Unity Explorer, "impacting in the vicinity of the vessel."

Roughly three hours after detecting the attack on the Unity Explorer, the USS Carney shot down an incoming Houthi drone. CENTCOM indicated that while the drone had been "headed toward CARNEY ... its specific target is not clear."

It appears that was only the terrorists' opening salvo.

Around 12:35 p.m., the Unity Explorer was struck by another missile fired from Yemen. The attack, which resulted in minor damage, prompted a response from the USS Carney.

While in the process of aiding the Unity Explorer with its danger assessment, the USS Carney detected another inbound drone. The warship quickly blasted the enemy craft to cinders.

At 3:30 p.m., the Number 9 container ship was hit by a missile, again from an area in Houthi-controlled Yemen. While it suffered damage, there were no casualties.

The Sophie II issued a distress call around 4:30 p.m., indicating it too had been struck by a missile. The damage was not significant and it appears there were no fatalities.

The USS Carney responded to the distress call from the Sophie II. However, on its way to administer support, the warship encountered another drone headed its way, which it quickly shot out of the sky in self-defense.

Responsibility and responses

Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, a spokesman for the Houthi terrorists, claimed responsibility for two of the four attacks, namely the first missile strike and the successful drone strike in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, linking the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden, reported the Associated Press.

"The Yemeni armed forces continue to prevent Israeli ships from navigating the Red Sea (and Gulf of Aden) until the Israeli aggression against our steadfast brothers in the Gaza Strip stops," said Saree. "The Yemeni armed forces renew their warning to all Israeli ships or those associated with Israelis that they will become a legitimate target if they violate what is stated in this statement."

The Unity Explorer reportedly may have been targeted in part because the British firm has among its officers Dan David Ungar, a resident of Israel.

CENTCOM stated, "These attacks represent a direct threat to international commerce and maritime security. They have jeopardized the lives of international crews representing multiple countries around the world."

"We also have every reason to believe that these attacks, while launched by the Houthis in Yemen, are fully enabled by Iran," continued CENTCOM. "The United States will consider all appropriate responses in full coordination with its international allies."

When missiles from Houthi-controlled territory were fired at American ships in 2016, the USS Nitze repaid the favor, atomizing three coastal radar sites in Houthi territory with cruise missiles.

While Iran has not officially addressed the attacks, Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian indicated that "if the current situation continues, the region will enter a new phase," referring to Israel's war with Hamas terrorists.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby indicated on Nov. 21 that the Biden administration is now considering "potential terrorist designations" for the Houthi forces over their "flagrant violation of international law," reported Reuters.

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