US, UK Unleash New Wave of Strikes on Houthi Missile Sites

The U.S. and U.K. launched a new wave of strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen on Jan. 22, hitting radars, missile support systems, and underground weapon storage areas, the Pentagon said. The strikes were in response to Houthi attacks on American commercial ships in the Red Sea.

The two countries operated with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands and launched the strikes “to disrupt and degrade the capabilities that the Houthis use to threaten global trade and the lives of innocent mariners,” according to a Pentagon press release. Specifically, the strikes were a response to Houthi attacks on commercial ships using “anti-ship ballistic missile and unmanned aerial system attacks that struck two U.S.-owned merchant vessels.”

The strike was carried out with ship- and submarine-launched Tomahawk missiles and fighter aircraft, but the Pentagon did not characterize the numbers of weapons used. The operation targeted eight sites which include “a Houthi underground storage site and locations associated with the Houthis’ missile and air surveillance capabilities,” the Pentagon said.

The U.K. ministry of defense said the strikes were calculated to minimize risk to civilians and launched at night for the same purpose.  

The U.S.-U.K. operation marks the latest in a series of strikes that began Jan. 12, when the two countries hit more than 60 Houthi targets at about 30 sites around Yemen.

The Houthis say they are striking at the ships to show solidarity with Hamas battling Israel in Gaza. They say the ships being struck are either headed to Israel with supplies or are operated by countries supporting Israel in the Gaza war, launched after the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel on Oct. 7. The Houthi anti-ship and ballistic missile systems seem to be supplied by Iran.

The U.S. has responded to these 30-plus attacks since November with strikes against the launch sites and Houthi missile and surveillance capabilities, the Pentagon said.  

The goal of the retaliations “remains to de-escalate tensions and restore stability in the Red Sea,” the Pentagon said. “But let us reiterate our warning to Houthi leadership: we will not hesitate to defend lives and the free flow of commerce in one of the world’s most critical waterways in the face of continued threats.”

The U.S. said the strikes in Yemen are being conducted as part of “a coalition of like-minded countries committed to upholding the rules-based order,” protecting freedom of navigation and international commerce.

The U.S. has hit targets in Yemen over the past week with F/A-18s launched from aircraft carriers. The Pentagon has said these strikes were largely aimed at missile launchers loaded and ready to fire.