Houthi missile strikes Greek-owned oil tanker in Red Sea, U.S. says

Yemen's Houthi militants hit an oil tanker in the Red Sea with a ballistic missile early Saturday, damaging the Panama-flagged, Greek-owned vessel in their latest assault over the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip, officials said.

Though the Houthis did not immediately claim the assault, it comes as they claimed to have shot down another U.S. military MQ-9 Reaper drone over Yemen and have launched other attacks on shipping, disrupting trade on a key maritime route leading to the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea.

The attack around 1 a.m. struck the oil tanker Wind, which recently docked in Russia and was bound for China, U.S. Central Command said. Both China and Russia maintain ties over military equipment and oil to Iran, the Houthis' main benefactor.

The missile strike "caused flooding which resulted in the of loss propulsion and steering," Central Command said on the social platform X. "The crew of M/T Wind was able to restore propulsion and steering, and no casualties were reported. M/T Wind resumed its course under its own power."

The British military's United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center and the private security firm Ambrey similarly acknowledged the attack earlier Saturday. Ambrey said it caused a fire aboard the Wind.

It can take the Houthis hours — or even days — to claim their attacks.

Since the outbreak of Israel's war with Hamas, the Houthis have attacked or threatened more than 100 commercial or military ships in the Red Sea or the Gulf of Aden. 

The Houthis claim their attacks are a protest against Israel's war against Hamas and the U.S. support for Israel, but U.S. officials point out that many of the ships the group has targeted have no connection to Israel.

People lift rifles, Yemeni and Palestinian flags and Houthi emblems and shout slogans as they participate in a mass protest staged in solidarity with the Palestinian people, on May 17, 2024, in Sana'a, Yemen. Getty Images

Houthi attacks have dropped in recent weeks as the rebels have been targeted by a U.S.-led airstrike campaign in Yemen. The U.S and the United Kingdom, with support from other countries, have conducted four rounds of joint airstrikes to destroy Houthi capabilities in Yemen. In addition, the U.S. military regularly conducts self-defense strikes against Houthi missiles and drones when it sees the Houthis preparing for an attack. 

Shipping through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden still remains low because of the threat, however.

The Houthis claimed that they shot down the Reaper on Thursday with a surface-to-air missile. They described the drone as "carrying out hostile actions" in Yemen's Marib province, which remains held by allies of Yemen's exiled, internationally recognized government.

Prior to Thursday, three Reaper drones have crashed since November in or near Yemen, at least two of which were confirmed to have been shot down by the Houthis.

Reapers, which cost around $30 million apiece, can fly at altitudes up to 50,000 feet and have an endurance of up to 24 hours before needing to land.


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