Houthis damage British cargo ship in new attack

The Iran-backed militants claim to have also shot down an American drone.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels shot down a U.S. drone and damaged a Belize-flagged, British cargo ship in their latest assault against commercial vessels, their spokesperson claimed Monday.

The Iranian-backed group, which has been targeting commercial shipping since the outbreak of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, said they hit the cargo ship Rubymar in the Gulf of Aden.

“The ship suffered catastrophic damage and came to a complete halt,” Houthi spokesperson Yahya Sare’e said on social media. “As a result of the extensive damage the ship suffered, it is now at risk of potential sinking in the Gulf of Aden.”

The U.K. Maritime Trade Operations agency said an explosion “in close proximity of the vessel” damaged it. The crew abandoned ship and is safe, the agency added.

The Belize-flagged, Lebanese-operated cargo ship was traveling through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait on its way to Bulgaria after leaving the United Arab Emirates, according to private security firm Ambrey, the Associated Press reported.

The Houthis said they also shot down a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone near Yemen’s port city of Al Hudaydah. U.S. authorities have not confirmed the claim.

Tensions in the Gulf have escalated since October 7, when Hamas launched a mass attack on Israel, killing around 1,200 people and kidnapping at least 250. Israel responded with a military assault on Gaza, where the death toll has surpassed 28,000 people, according to the Gazan health ministry.

The Houthi rebels have launched more than 30 attacks on commercial and naval vessels in the Red Sea since mid-November.

In retaliation, U.K. and U.S. military have been carrying out targeted air and missile strikes against the Iran-backed militants. The EU is also planning a defensive mission in the region.

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