US-UK strikes draw sharp response from Houthis. Here’s what we know

The joint US-UK strikes on Houthi targets Thursday night marked a dramatic escalation in the West’s response to weeks’ worth of attacks on shipping in the Red Sea.

It also drew a harsh response from the Houthis, who quickly launched retaliatory strikes.

Here’s what you need to know on Friday.

  • Houthis vow revenge: Houthi forces launched retaliatory attacks on US and UK warships in the Red Sea after strikes by the US and its partners, a senior member of the group claimed early Friday. Meanwhile, the Houthi deputy foreign minister warned the US and Britain would face severe repercussions for what he termed a blatant act of aggression.
  • US-UK strikes: The US and UK militaries launched strikes against multiple Houthi targets in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen on Thursday, marking a significant response after the Biden administration and its allies warned that the Iran-backed militant group would bear the consequences of repeated drone and missile attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the joint strikes were “intended to disrupt and degrade the Houthis’ capabilities to endanger mariners and threaten global trade.”
  • Multiple targets: US and coalition forces hit more than 60 targets at 16 Houthi militant locations in Yemen, US Air Forces Central Commander Lt. Gen. Alex Grynkewich said. They included the Houthis’ unmanned aerial vehicle, uncrewed surface vessel, land-attack cruise missile, and coastal radar and air surveillance capabilities, Austin said in a statement. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the strikes aimed to degrade Houthi military capabilities and safeguard global shipping. Action was taken with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands.
  • Five dead, Houthis say: The strikes killed five and wounded six others, according to the Houthi rebels’ military spokesperson, Yahya Sare’e, on Friday. The Houthi spokesperson also said that they would continue their recent aggression against commercial ships in the Red Sea, with its leader calling the strikes “barbaric.”
  • Weeks-long attacks: The barrage of Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping Tuesday marked the final straw for Biden, a senior US official told CNN. Biden said he ordered the strikes “in direct response to unprecedented Houthi attacks against international maritime vessels in the Red Sea.” The Houthis have been targeting commercial shipping in the area for weeks. “That type of behavior can’t carry on,” UK Prime Minister Sunak told broadcasters Friday.
  • Regional tensions: Iran, which is believed to have armed and trained the Houthis, condemned the joint strikes, saying they violated international law and “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yemen,” and warning they would fuel regional instability. Saudi Arabia meanwhile urged restraint in the Red Sea. There are fears that the Houthis’ attacks could escalate Israel’s war against Hamas into a wider regional conflict.
  • Future strikes possible: There are no new UK strikes immediately planned, its government said Friday. But the joint strikes on Houthi positions may not be the final moves taken against the Iran-backed group, a senior US administration official said, signaling further action could be necessary to protect people and commerce in the Red Sea. “This may well not be the last word on the topic,” the official said.