US response to Houthi attacks: Avoiding escalation in the Middle East

US response to Houthi attacks: Avoiding escalation in the Middle East

Shafaq News / The White House affirmed on Sunday that the US does not seek to escalate the conflict in the Middle East after an American strike targeted boats used by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen to attack a container ship in the Red Sea.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby, in an interview with ABC, stated, "We are not seeking to escalate conflict in the Middle East. All we want is for the Houthis to stop these attacks, and we have been clear about that repeatedly."

He added, "We have formed a coalition of 20 countries so far, and we have an obligation with our partners to keep shipping lanes open, which is vital for the world." Kirby emphasized, "We are committed to the continued flow of shipping along this crucial route, and we take this matter very seriously."

Earlier on Sunday, the US military announced the sinking of three boats belonging to the Houthis and the killing of their crews in response to a second attack in less than 24 hours on a container carrier in the Red Sea. This action prompted the ship's owning company to suspend passage in the area for 48 hours. Yemeni sources in Hodeidah reported ten fatalities in this incident.

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) declared via X that American helicopters responded to a distress call from the Danish container ship "Maersk Hangzhou", flying the flag of Singapore, reporting that it was under attack by four boats affiliated with the Houthis.

The command stated, "While issuing verbal warnings to the boats, they fired at American helicopters," to which the helicopters responded "by firing in self-defense, sinking three out of the four boats and killing their crews."

"The fourth boat fled the area," the command noted, adding that "no damage was inflicted on American personnel or equipment."

The CENTCOM clarified that the fired shots from the boats "came within 20 meters of the ship while attempting to board."

In recent weeks, the Houthis have intensified their attacks on ships in the Red Sea, threatening to disrupt global maritime trade.

The Houthis, who control vast areas of Yemen, including the capital Sanaa, reiterate that they will continue these attacks until sufficient amounts of food and medicine enter Gaza, which Israel has besieged and subjected to ongoing airstrikes and ground operations since Hamas' attack on Israeli on October 7th.

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