US destroys 4 Houthi drones in Yemen

Houthi supporters attend a rally against the US-led airstrikes on Yemen and the war in the Gaza Strip in Sanaa, Yemen, March 1, 2024. (AP Photo)
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Updated 16 May 2024
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US destroys 4 Houthi drones in Yemen

  • CENTCOM: These actions are taken to protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for US, coalition, and merchant vessels
  • Prime minister accuses militia of trying to bankrupt the government by attacking oil terminals

AL-MUKALLA: The US Central Command said on Thursday morning, Yemen time, that its forces had destroyed four drones in an area controlled by the Houthi militia, thwarting a strike on ships in international commercial waterways.

“These actions are taken to protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for US, coalition, and merchant vessels,” CENTCOM said in a statement.

This is the latest round of US military operations against sites in Yemen under Houthi control to pre-emptively destroy drones and missiles before they can be used against commercial and navy ships in the Red Sea, Bab Al-Mandab Strait and Gulf of Aden.

The CENTCOM announcement came as Houthi officials reaffirmed their warnings to expand their assaults on ships if Israel did not halt its war in the Gaza Strip. 

Mahdi Al-Mashat, leader of the militia’s Supreme Political Council, said that they will launch attacks on ships during the fourth phase of their campaign in support of Palestine, which involves targeting ships in the Mediterranean until Israel ends the war and the blockade of Gaza.

“We have decisive, bold, and difficult choices if the aggression against our people in Gaza continues,” Al-Mashat said, according to the Houthi-run Saba news agency.

The militia’s leader, Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, said on Thursday that his forces had fired 211 missiles at Israel and carried out more than 100 attacks on US warships in the Red Sea since the start of their campaign in November.

He urged Iraqis to join them in their operations to support the Palestinian people.

“Companies that transport goods to the Israeli enemy will have their ships attacked anywhere within reach of the Yemeni army's capabilities,” Al-Houthi said. 

Since November, the Houthis have destroyed one commercial ship, captured another, and launched hundreds of ballistic missiles and drones at commercial ships and warships along international shipping lanes near Yemen, mostly in the Red Sea.

The Houthis say the attacks are intended to compel Israel to halt its blockade of Gaza, and have targeted US and UK ships because both countries attacked Yemen.

Yemeni government officials accuse the Houthis of leveraging Yemen’s widespread anger over Israel’s war in Gaza to shore up their dwindling popular support, recruit new fighters, and justify continuing military operations throughout Yemen. 

Speaking to leaders at the Arab summit in Bahrain on Thursday, Rashad Al-Alimi, head of Yemen’s internationally recognized Presidential Leadership Council, branded the Houthis as a “rogue” force that poses a significant danger to regional and international security.

He accused the Houthis of killing more than 500,000 Yemenis, displacing four million more, torching hundreds of homes and mosques, besieging towns, seizing Yemeni property, and generating the world’s greatest humanitarian catastrophe.

“The Yemen war, which was instigated a decade ago by Iran-backed militia, will continue to be one of the biggest challenges to Arab nations and their people’s interests,” Al-Alimi said.

At the same time, Yemen’s Prime Minister Ahmed Awadh bin Mubarak accused the Houthis of attempting to bankrupt his government by attacking oil terminals in the government-controlled provinces of Hadramout and Shabwa, preventing traders from importing goods through Aden ports, while banning the import of gas from the central city of Marib. 

He said that the Houthis’ efforts, which he described as an economic war, had cost the Yemeni government 3.3 trillion Yemeni riyals ($13.2 billion) in lost income since October 2022. 

“The Houthis are using all of their cards, including the economic war, to accomplish political goals,” bin Mubarak said in an interview with the national TV on Wednesday.


Iran calls for joint action by Islamic nations to stop Gaza war

Updated 4 sec ago
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Iran calls for joint action by Islamic nations to stop Gaza war

  • Israel’s military offensive on Gaza has killed at least 37,337 people so far

TEHRAN: Iran’s Acting Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani has called for joint action on the part of Islamic countries to pressure Israel into ending its brutal military activities in Gaza, which have devastated most of the enclave and killed thousands of Palestinians there.

Israel’s military offensive on Gaza has killed at least 37,337 people, mostly civilian women and children, since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.

Humanitarian supplies for millions of Palestinians displaced by the conflict have been squeezed despite the Israeli military declaring it would “pause” fighting daily around a southern route to facilitate aid flows.

The Iranian official also spoke with his Afghan counterpart Amir Khan Muttaqi via telephone on Sunday, with the two discussing bilateral relations as well as the situation in war-ravaged Gaza.

Kani reiterated Iran’s readiness to help Kabul resolve its challenges and achieve growth, Iran’s news agency IRNA reported.


Kuwaiti citizen detained for alleged involvement in extremist group

Updated 9 min 45 sec ago
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Kuwaiti citizen detained for alleged involvement in extremist group

KUWAIT CITY: The Public Prosecution in Kuwait has ordered the detention of a citizen on charges of joining a group aimed at illegally undermining the country’s basic systems, state news agency KUNA reported on Sunday.

The individual is also accused of receiving training in making explosives and preparing poisons for illicit purposes, as well as planning to leave the country to fight with the group, though he was unable to do so.

The Public Prosecution interrogated the accused and presented him with the charges, according to a statement released on its official account on X. Investigation procedures are ongoing.


Yemen’s Houthis announce new maritime operations in support of Gaza

Updated 13 min 14 sec ago
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Yemen’s Houthis announce new maritime operations in support of Gaza

  • The Houthis declared that attacks on Israel-linked shipping will persist until Israel ends its war on Gaza and lifts the siege on Palestinian territories

SANAA: The Houthi militia’s army spokesman, Yahya Saree, announced on Sunday that an American destroyer and two Israel-linked ships were targeted in recent operations in the Red and Arabian seas.

Saree said that the US destroyer was hit by ballistic missiles in the Red Sea, while the two ships — Captain Paris and Happy Condor — were targeted in the Arabian Sea using naval missiles and drones, respectively.

He stated that these ships were targeted because they were en route to ports in Israeli-occupied territories.

Saree reaffirmed Yemen’s stance, declaring that attacks on Israel-linked shipping will persist until Israel ends its war on Gaza and lifts the siege on Palestinian territories.

He also emphasized that the Yemeni army would continue to defend its territory against US-UK “aggression,” referring to joint airstrikes by the two Western nations, which the latter claim were launched to protect international shipping.

The Houthis have rejected these claims, asserting that their military operations in international waters, ongoing since mid-November, only target Israeli ships or vessels heading to Israeli-occupied ports.


Lull in Gaza fighting as Biden urges truce in Eid message

Updated 20 min 37 sec ago
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Lull in Gaza fighting as Biden urges truce in Eid message

  • In a holiday message late Sunday, US President Joe Biden called for the implementation of a ceasefire plan he outlined last month

GAZA: Israel struck Gaza on Monday and witnesses reported blasts in the besieged territory’s south, but fighting has largely subsided after a day of relative calm and as Muslims marked Eid Al-Adha.
In a holiday message late Sunday, US President Joe Biden called for the implementation of a ceasefire plan he outlined last month, saying it was “the best way to end the violence in Gaza” and to help civilians suffering “the horrors of the war between Hamas and Israel.”
A daytime “pause” for aid deliveries announced at the weekend by Israel’s military around a southern Gaza route appeared to be holding, while elsewhere in the Palestinian territory an AFP correspondent said strikes and shelling have decreased.
In Gaza City, medics at Al-Ahli hospital said at least five people were killed in two separate air strikes, and witnesses reported tank shelling in the southern neighborhood of Zeitun.
At least one strike hit Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, residents said.
Palestinian officials in the far-southern city of Rafah reported tank shelling early on Monday, before the start of the daily “local, tactical pause of military activity” announced by the army.
It said the pause “for humanitarian purposes will take place from 8:00 am (0500 GMT) until 7:00 p.m. (1600 GMT) every day until further notice along the road that leads from the Kerem Shalom crossing to the Salah Al-Din road and then northwards.”
An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP “there was no change” in the military’s policy and stressed fighting “continues as planned.”
An army spokeperson told AFP the pause was in effect on Monday, and the military in a statement said troops were still operating in Rafah and central Gaza, reporting “close-quarters combat” that killed several militants.
Witnesses told AFP they could hear blasts in Rafah’s city center and west on Monday morning.


A map released by the army showed the declared humanitarian route extending up to Rafah’s European Hospital, about 10 kilometers (six miles) from Kerem Shalom.
Mahmud Basal, spokesman for the civil defense agency in the Hamas-ruled territory, said that apart from the deadly Gaza City strikes overnight, “the other areas of the Gaza Strip are somewhat calm.”
He reported military movements and gunfire in parts of Rafah as well as Bureij camp in central Gaza.
On Sunday, the first day of Eid Al-Adha, or the feast of the sacrifice, the spokesman said “calm has prevailed across all of Gaza.”
The United Nations has welcomed the Israeli announcement of the pause, although “this has yet to translate into more aid reaching people in need,” said Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN humanitarian agency OCHA.
He called for “further concrete measures by Israel to address longstanding issues” on humanitarian needs.
Gazans “urgently need food, water, sanitation, shelter, and health care, with many living near piles of solid waste, heightening health risks,” Laerke said.
Dire shortages of food and other essentials in the Gaza Strip have been exacerbated by overland access restrictions and the closure of the key Rafah crossing with Egypt since Israeli forces seized its Palestinian side in early May.
The military said the pause was in effect as part of efforts to “increase the volumes of humanitarian aid” following discussions with the United Nations and other organizations.
It was announced a day after eight Israeli soldiers were killed in a blast near Rafah and three more troops died elsewhere, in one of the heaviest losses for the army in more than eight months of war against Hamas militants.


The war was triggered by Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack on southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.
The militants also seized 251 hostages. Of these, 116 remain in Gaza, although the army says 41 are dead.
Israel’s retaliatory offensive aimed at wiping out Hamas has killed at least 37,337 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the territory’s health ministry.
Egyptian, Qatari and US mediators have been pushing for a new Gaza truce, so far without success.
Washington has been pressing Israel and Hamas to formally accept Biden’s truce plan, which would allow an initial six-week pause to fighting.
“I strongly believe that the three-phase ceasefire proposal Israel has made to Hamas and that the UN Security Council has endorsed is the best way to end the violence in Gaza and ultimately end the war,” the US president said.
The only previous truce lasted one week in November and saw many hostages released in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, while increased aid flowed into Gaza.
Hamas has insisted on the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and a permanent ceasefire — demands Israel has repeatedly rejected.


Netanyahu disbands his inner war cabinet, Israeli official says

Updated 26 min 26 sec ago
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Netanyahu disbands his inner war cabinet, Israeli official says

  • The prime minister had faced demands from the nationalist-religious partners in his coalition

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dissolved the six-member war cabinet, an Israeli official said on Monday, in a widely expected move that came after the departure from government of the centrist former general Benny Gantz.
Netanyahu is now expected to hold consultations about the Gaza war with a small group of ministers, including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer who had been in the war cabinet.
The prime minister had faced demands from the nationalist-religious partners in his coalition, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, to be included in the war cabinet, a move which would have intensified strains with international partners including the United States.
The forum was formed after Gantz joined Netanyahu in a national unity government at the start of the war in October and also included Gantz’s partner Gadi Eisenkot and Aryeh Deri, head of the religious party Shas, as observers.
Gantz and Eisenkot both left the government last week, over what they said was Netanyahu’s failure to form a strategy for the Gaza war.