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AL-MUKALLA: The US military said Yemen’s Houthi militia had fired a new wave of drones and missiles at international shipping lanes off the coast of Yemen, including two missiles aimed at a US warship in the Red Sea.

The Houthis had previously claimed that they had carried out another retaliatory strike against a US ship in the Red Sea.

The US Central Command said on Sunday that the Houthis launched three drones over the Red Sea on Saturday. One of them was destroyed by their forces, while the other two crashed into the water and did not hit any ships in the important trade corridor.

The US military said in a statement on Sunday morning Yemeni time that no injuries or damage had been reported by either the US coalition or merchant ships.

Also on Saturday, CENTCOM forces intercepted two anti-ship ballistic missiles in the southern Red Sea before they reached their target, the destroyer USS Gravely.

“The ASBMs were fired toward the USS Gravely and destroyed in self-defense with no damage or injuries reported by U.S., coalition, or merchant vessels,” the U.S. military said in the same statement.

On Friday, the Houthis fired five drones and two ballistic missiles into the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, but did not hit any ships on the two trade routes, CENTCOM said.

In Sanaa on Saturday evening, the Houthis claimed to have carried out six attacks on merchant and naval vessels in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, including one on the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

In a videotaped statement, Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea said their forces fired several ballistic missiles and drones at the US aircraft carrier and a US destroyer in the Red Sea.

The other four attacks targeted three ships: the Maina in the Red Sea, the Al-Oraiq in the Indian Ocean and the Abliani in the Red Sea. They were accused of violating the ban on calling at Israeli ports.

Ship tracking app Marine Traffic identified the Maina as a Maltese-flagged bulk carrier that left the Russian Baltic port of Ust-Luga early last month for the port of Krishnapatnam in India.

According to the app, the Marshall Islands-flagged Al-Oraiq is an LNG tanker sailing from Ras Laffan in Qatar to Italy, while the Malta-flagged Abliani is a crude oil tanker sailing to the Suez Canal in Egypt.

Since November, the Houthis have sunk one merchant ship, hijacked another and said they have fired hundreds of ballistic missiles and drones at more than 100 ships in the Red Sea, the Strait of Bab Al-Mandab, the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean and, most recently, the Mediterranean.

The Houthis claim that their actions are directed exclusively against ships with links to Israel. They want to put pressure on Israel to end the war in the Gaza Strip. Opponents of the Houthis in Yemen dispute this claim and accuse the militias of exploiting the nationwide outrage over the civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip to gain popular support in their own country.

The United States responded to the Houthi attacks by designating them as a terrorist organization, establishing a naval alliance to protect the seas, and launching air strikes on Houthi positions in Yemen.

Although the US claims its attacks have weakened the Houthis, analysts point out that the increasing number of Houthis’ attacks on ships is evidence that their attacks are ineffective and the Houthis continue to feel that their attacks have increased their popularity.

“It (the increase in Houthi attacks) suggests that US and UK airstrikes on Houthi targets are not working, at least not yet, and not as effectively as intended,” Elisabeth Kendall, Middle East expert and head of Girton College at Cambridge University, told Arab News. “It suggests that the Houthis believe their attacks continue to benefit them, as it gives them widespread popularity, international notoriety and greater influence in the ongoing effort to end the Yemen war. They see no reason to stop,” she added.

Kendall said maintaining attacks on ships, even with less precise weapons, was a victory for the Houthis.

“The Houthis are resilient and the asymmetric nature of the Red Sea conflict is working in their favor. The sophistication of their weapons may be waning, but they simply have to keep going.”

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