PMF supporters rally in support of Yemen's Houthis in Baghdad

PMF supporters rally in support of Yemen's Houthis in Baghdad

Shafaq News/ Supporters of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) rallied in support of Yemen's Houthi rebels in a nighttime demonstration in Baghdad's Tahrir Square on Saturday.

The rally was attended by a representative of the Houthi Ansar Allah groups p, who called for the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq and the Middle East. The demonstrators also raised Palestinian flags in support of Gaza in the ongoing conflict with Israel.

The rally was marked by chants of support for the Houthis and condemnations of the US and Israel. The demonstrators also burned an American flag.

The Houthi movement threatened a "strong and effective response" after the United States carried out another strike in Yemen overnight, further ratcheting up tensions as Washington vows to protect shipping from attacks by the Iran-aligned group.

The strikes have added to concerns about the escalation of the conflict that has spread through the region since the Palestinian militant group Hamas and Israel went to war, with Iran's allies also entering the fray from Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.

The latest strike, which the U.S. said hit a radar site, came a day after dozens of American and British strikes on Houthi facilities in Yemen.

"This new strike will have a firm, strong and effective response," Houthi spokesperson Nasruldeen Amer told Al Jazeera, adding there had been no injuries nor "material damages".

Mohammed Abdulsalam, another Houthi spokesperson, told Reuters the strikes, including the one overnight that hit a military base in Sanaa, had no significant impact on the group's ability to prevent Israel-affiliated vessels from passing through the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea.

The Pentagon said on Friday the U.S.-British strikes had "good effects".

Hans Grundberg, U.N. special envoy for Yemen, on Saturday, urged maximum restraint by "all involved" in Yemen and warned of an increasingly precarious situation in the region.

The Houthis say their maritime campaign aims to support Palestinians under Israeli siege and attack in Gaza, which is ruled by the Iran-backed Hamas. Many of the vessels they have attacked had no known connection to Israel.

The group, which controls Sanaa and much of the west and north of Yemen, has also fired drones and missiles up the Red Sea at Israel itself.

The guided missile destroyer Carney used Tomahawk missiles in the follow-on strike early on Saturday local time "to degrade the Houthis' ability to attack maritime vessels, including commercial vessels," the U.S. Central Command said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter.

The Red Sea crisis has added to the spread of conflict through the Middle East since Hamas militants rampaged through southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and seizing 240 hostages.

Israel has responded by laying waste to large sections of Gaza to try to annihilate Hamas. A total of 23,843 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes on the enclave since Oct. 7, the Gaza health ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

At the U.N. Security Council on Friday, Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the U.S. and Britain "single-handedly triggered a spillover of the conflict (in Gaza) to the entire region."

A senior U.S. official accused Tehran of providing the Yemeni group with military capabilities and intelligence to carry out their attacks. Iran condemned the American and British strikes but there has been no sign so far that Iran is seeking direct conflict.

Houthi attacks have forced commercial ships to take a longer, costlier route around Africa, creating concern about a new bout of inflation and supply chain disruption. Container shipping rates for key global routes have soared this week.

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