U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said Tuesday that the Iran-backed Houthi terrorists of Yemen launched a massive barrage of drones and missiles at Israel, only to see their weapons intercepted and destroyed by the guided missile destroyer USS Laboon and F/A-18 fighters from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier battle group.
CENTCOM said U.S. forces “shot down twelve one-way attack drones, three anti-ship ballistic missiles, and two land attack cruise missiles in the Southern Red Sea that were fired by the Houthis over a 10 hour period.”
“There was no damage to ships in the area or reported injuries,” the statement added.
CENTCOM did not indicate if USS Laboon or other Navy assets were targeted by the Houthi drones and missiles.
The Houthis launched their attack the day after U.S. warplanes conducted retaliatory strikes against Iran-backed militias in Iraq, whose latest assault on American positions in Iraqi Kurdistan injured three U.S. service members.
A spokesman for the Houthis said the intended targets were a container ship in the Red Sea, Israel’s port of Eilat, and “other areas in occupied Palestine,” meaning Israel.
The container ship, MSC United VIII, was traveling from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan when the Houthis ordered it to change course. When the ship refused, the Houthis attacked with at least two suicide drones. The owning company, MSC Mediterranean, said the crew was safe and details of the assault have been relayed to the U.S.-led Red Sea security coalition.
The Laboon shot down four Houthi drones on Saturday. CENTCOM said the drones were “inbound” to the destroyer’s position, but did not specify whether the Navy ship was their intended target.
USS Laboon proceeded to answer two distress calls from two commercial vessels under attack by Houthi drones in the Red Sea. One of them, the India-flagged M/V Saibaba, was hit by a Houthi suicide drone but suffered no casualties.
CENTCOM counted these two incidents on Saturday as the 14th and 15th Houthi attacks on commercial shipping since the Hamas atrocities of October 7. CENTCOM added that the Houthis launched two anti-ship ballistic missiles into commercial shipping lanes on Saturday, but apparently did not hit anything.
Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) Senior Fellow Behnam Ben Taleblu on Tuesday predicted Houthi attacks would continue until the terrorists were made to pay a price for harassing ships in the Red Sea.
“This is what happens when deterrence by punishment is forsaken. Expect more, not fewer, attacks towards Israel as well as diminished freedom of navigation in the Red Sea. Anti-ship ballistic missiles, suicide drones, and land attack cruise missiles in the hands of the Houthis are brought to you by the Islamic Republic of Iran, full stop,” he said.
The Houthis are members of a jihadi movement that calls itself “Ansar Allah,” the Army of Allah. Its slogan is “Allahu Akbar, Death to the United States, Death to Israel, Curse the Jews, Victory for Islam.” President Joe Biden lifted Ansar Allah’s classification as a terrorist organization in February 2021.