Iran-Backed Houthis Attack British Ship, Claim Drone Down

( – A British-owned, Belize-flagged cargo ship sustained damage in an attack by Houthi rebels early Monday as it was transiting the Bab el-Mandeb Strait between the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, NBC News reported.

According to the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) of the British military, the ship was damaged following “an explosion” near the vessel. While no injuries were reported, the crew was forced to abandon ship, the Associated Press reported.

UKMTO confirmed that the ship was at anchor and the crew was safe.

According to the security firm Ambrey, the cargo ship was bound for Bulgaria from Khofakkan in the UAE when it was attacked.

While the Houthis did not immediately take responsibility for the attack, the group’s military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree said that a statement on recent activities would be forthcoming.

The Houthis meanwhile, claimed to have shot down a US Reaper drone near the Red Sea port city of Hodeida in Yemen. However, US forces in the region had not confirmed the report.

Saree claimed that the Reaper was shot down as it attempted to carry out “hostile missions” in Yemen “on behalf of the Zionist entity.”

The latest attack comes after the Pentagon acknowledged that it had conducted additional airstrikes targeting the Houthis, including an attack on an underwater drone.

US Central Command (CENTCOM), which oversees US military operations in the region, reported last week that it launched five airstrikes on Houthi targets, including an “unmanned underwater vessel,” mobile anti-ship cruise missiles, and an unmanned surface vessel carrying explosives.

According to CENTCOM, last week was the first time it had observed the Houthis using an unmanned underwater vessel since its attacks in the region began.

Since mid-November, the Houthis have targeted commercial and merchant vessels in and around the Red Sea in protest of Israel’s war against Hamas, frequently targeting vessels with no links to Israel. The frequent attacks have prompted many commercial shipping companies to reroute shipments away from the region.

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