Houthi rebels in Yemen are showing no signs of ending their “reckless” attacks on ships in the Red Sea, a top US navy commander has warned.
Attacks on commercial vessels in the region have continued even as more nations join the international maritime mission to secure the vital waterway and trade traffic begins to pick up.
The Iran-backed Houthis say their attacks are aimed at Israel-linked ships in an effort to stop the Israeli offensive in Gaza.
The crucial trade route via the narrow Bab el-Mandeb Strait connects the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea and then the Suez Canal, linking markets in Asia and Europe.
Amid serious attacks and an enduring threat, some shipping companies have ordered their vessels not to enter the strait until the security situation improved.
Since the international operation – which has seen five warships patrolling the waters – began, a total of 17 drones and four anti-ship ballistic missiles have been shot down, according to the US navy’s Vice-Admiral Brad Cooper.
In the past 10 days, 1,200 merchant ships have travelled through the Red Sea region and none have been hit by drone or missile strikes, he said.
Vice-Admiral Cooper said the coalition is in direct communication with commercial ships to provide guidance on “manoeuvring and the best practices to avoid being attacked”, and working closely with the shipping industry to coordinate security.
Since the operation started, the Houthis have stepped up their use of anti-ship ballistic missiles, he added. “We are cleareyed that the Houthi reckless attacks will likely continue,” he said.