Iran-Backed Houthis Claim Attack on Coalition Ship Near Strategic Strait

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels claimed an attack on a Saudi-led coalition warship near a strategic Red Sea waterway, China’s state-owned Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday.

The reported attack took place off the coast of the Yemeni city of Mocha, about 60 miles north of the Bab al-Mandeb Strait. An estimated 4.7 million barrels of oil pass daily through the strait, which links the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea.

“The navy of the army and popular forces on Wednesday targeted a warship belonging to a Saudi-led coalition while it was carrying out hostile acts off Mokha coast of Taiz province,” a Houthi military official was quoted as saying by the Houthi-affiliated Saba news agency.

Al Massira TV, which is also linked to the Houthis, reported that “the navy forces of the national army fired a missile targeting the enemy coalition warship at the Red Sea early morning of Wednesday.”

Houthis attacked a Saudi frigate off the coast of Yemen in late January, killing two crew members and injuring three more. U.S. intelligence officials told Fox News at the time that the intended target may have been an American warship.

The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has been fighting since March 2015 to restore the internationally-recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, a U.S. counter-terrorism partner. He was ousted after the Houthis, a longtime Zaydi Shiite insurgency in the north of Yemen, captured the Yemeni capital Sana’a earlier that year. Since then, the coalition has mostly pushed the Houthis out of southern Yemen.

Iranian shipments of weapons to the Houthis have been repeatedly intercepted by U.S. naval forces. The shipments included thousands of rifles, RPGs, anti-tank missiles, and other light and medium arms. Iran has openly acknowledged its support for the Houthis, and in early March 2015, Lebanon’s NOW Media reported that Houthi fighters were receiving training in Syria on behalf of Iran.

The United Nations has identified Yemen as a “humanitarian crisis,” reporting that more than 10,000 people, including 3,800 civilians, were killed between March 2015 and August 2016.

Al Masdar news, which is affiliated with Hezbollah, reported Wednesday that the Houthis released two videos of what they said were successful attacks with anti-tank weapons against Saudi forces.

[Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Starkey / WikiCommons ]