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Iran-backed group attacks ships in Middle East

The guided missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64). (U.S. Navy photo by Journalist Seaman Apprentice Charles A. Ordoqui)
December 04, 2023

The Iran-backed Houthis conducted multiple ballistic missile attacks against commercial vessels in the Red Sea on Sunday, prompting a United States destroyer to provide aid to the commercial ships. The U.S. destroyer also shot down three drones in self-defense.

U.S. Central Command released a statement Sunday afternoon regarding the series of attacks that were launched by Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen.

“Today, there were four attacks against three separate commercial vessels operating in international waters in the southern Red Sea,” U.S. Central Command stated. “These three vessels are connected to 14 separate nations. The Arleigh-Burke Class destroyer USS CARNEY responded to the distress calls from the ships and provided assistance.”

Sunday’s series of attacks occurred as tensions have continued to rise in the Middle East since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas in early October. The Pentagon has announced that U.S. forces in the Middle East have been attacked dozens of times by Iran-backed terrorist organizations.

Following Sunday’s multiple attacks on commercial vessels in the Middle East near the location of the USS Carney destroyer, the United States military warned that it would consider “all appropriate responses” and criticized Iran for enabling the Houthis.

“These attacks represent a direct threat to international commerce and maritime security. They have jeopardized the lives of international crews representing multiple countries around the world,” U.S. Central Command said. “We also have every reason to believe that these attacks, while launched by the Houthis in Yemen, are fully enabled by Iran. The United States will consider all appropriate responses in full coordination with its international allies and partners.”

READ MORE: US Navy shoots down Iranian-made drone

In its statement, U.S. Central Command explained that the USS Carney detected an anti-ship ballistic missile attack at roughly 9:15 a.m. local time that was fired toward the Unity Explorer, a Bahamas-flagged bulk carrier Unity Explorer, from parts of Yemen controlled by the Houthi. The missile impacted “in the vicinity of the vessel,” according to U.S. Central Command.

Around 12 p.m., the USS Carney shot down a drone that was launched from Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen. U.S. Central Command noted that the drone’s intended target was “not clear.” As a result, the U.S. military could not “assess” whether the U.S. destroyer was the drone’s intended target. However, U.S. Central Command did reveal that the incident with the drone did not result in any injuries or damage.

In another attack at roughly 12:35 p.m., the Unity Explorer was hit by a missile that was fired from Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen. As the USS Carney responded to the commercial vessel’s distress call and assisted with damage assessment, the U.S. destroyer detected and destroyed another drone. U.S. Central Command added that the Unity Explorer only reported minor damage from the missile strike.

Later in the afternoon, both the Number 9 and Sophie II Panamanian-flagged bulk carriers were hit by missiles. The Number 9 commercial vessel reported some damage but no casualties, while the Sophie II commercial vessel reported no significant damage.

Around 4:30 p.m., while the USS Carney was navigating to assist the Sophie II vessel, the U.S. destroyer shot and destroyed another drone that was heading toward its direction.

According to The Associated Press, the USS Carney, which is an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, has shot down multiple rockets fired by the Houthi toward Israel since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas. The U.S. military has not reported any injuries from the crew or damage to the destroyer as a result of the recent incidents in the Middle East.

Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, a Houthi spokesman, claimed the group was responsible for two of Sunday’s attacks.

“The Yemeni armed forces continues to prevent Israeli ships from navigating in the Red and Arab Seas until the Israeli aggression against our steadfast brothers in the Gaza Strip stops,” Saree said. “The Yemeni Armed Forces renew it’s warning to all Israeli vessels or those linked to Israelis that they will become a legitimate target if they violate what stated in this and previous Yemeni Armed Forces statements.”