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US denies Yemen's Houthis attacked aircraft carrier in Red Sea

Armed movement said it hit vessel in response to US and UK strikes on Yemen
Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Sarea chants slogans during a rally held to show solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, in Sanaa, on 24 May 2024 (Khaled Abdullah/Reuters)

Yemen's Houthis claim to have hit a US aircraft carrier in the Red Sea in response to American and British raids on their country, an allegation denied by Washington.

In a statement, the Iran-allied movement said that the "missile force and the naval force of the Yemeni Armed Forces carried out a joint military operation targeting the American aircraft carrier 'Eisenhower' in the Red Sea".

"The operation was carried out with a number of winged and ballistic missiles, the hit was accurate and direct, thanks to God," Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Saree said on Friday. 

A US defense official told Reuters they were not aware of any attack on the ship.

Saree reported that the earlier strikes on the city of Hodeidah had left 16 people dead.

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The US and UK have been conducting strikes against the group, officially named Ansar Allah, in recent months in retaliation for operations disrupting shipping in the Red Sea.

The Houthis say their attacks on ships in the waterway linked to Israel, the UK and the US are in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza.

US Central Command stated that American and British forces hit 13 targets in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen overnight.

According to Saree, the strikes hit the port of Salif, a radio building in al-Hawk district, Ghalifa camp and two houses.

UK's Ministry of Defence said the joint operation targeted three locations in Hodeidah, which it claimed was housing drones and surface-to-air weapons.

"As ever, the utmost care was taken in planning the strikes to minimise any risk to civilians or non-military infrastructure," the ministry said.

"Conducting the strikes in the hours of darkness should also have mitigated yet further any such risks."

The Houthis began targeting allegedly Israeli-linked targets in November after the outbreak of the Gaza war. In one of its first operations, the Houthis seized the Galaxy Leader, a Bahamas-flagged commercial vessel owned by Israeli business tycoon Rami Ungar, landing on its deck from a helicopter.

Since then, the Houthis have broadened their attacks from vessels linked to Israel to commercial and military ships with any ties to the US and UK in response to US-led air strikes against the group.

According to the International Monetary Fund, container shipping through the Red Sea dropped by around one-third in the first week of 2024 compared with the same period last year, as shipping companies avoided the Suez Canal.

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