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Houthis get critical support from Iran for Red Sea attacks, U.S. Navy admiral says

Navy admiral on Iranian support for Houthis
U.S. Navy admiral on how Houthis are supported by Iran in Red Sea attacks | 60 Minutes 00:38

Iranian support has been critical for the Houthis as they bombard commercial ships in the Red Sea, Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, said in a recent "60 Minutes" interview.

The Houthis, a Shia militia from Yemen, have targeted at least 45 ships in recent months, disrupting crucial international shipping corridors, even as the U.S. Navy has moved into the Red Sea to push back against the group. They're being aided by members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps, Cooper said.  

"The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is inside Yemen, and they are serving side by side with the Houthis, advising them and providing target information," Cooper said. 

That support goes back a decade, Cooper said, with Iran providing supplies to the Houthis for years. 

"They're resupplying them as we sit here right now at sea," Cooper said. "We know this is happening. They're advising them, and they're providing target information. This is crystal clear."

On Thursday, U.S. Central Command announced that on Jan. 28, a U.S. Coast Guard ship in the Arabian Sea seized weapons originating in Iran and bound for Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. The boarding team found more than 200 packages containing medium-range ballistic missile components, explosives, unmanned underwater/surface vehicle components, military-grade communication and network equipment, anti-tank guided missile launcher assemblies and other military components.

"This is yet another example of Iran's malign activity in the region," Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla, CENTCOM commander, said in a statement. "Their continued supply of advanced conventional weapons to the Houthis is in direct violation of international law and continues to undermine the safety of international shipping and the free flow of commerce."

Houthi attacks on ships began after war broke out in Israel and Gaza, even though President Biden had warned Iran and its allies to stay out of the conflict.

The Houthis, who seized Yemen's capital in 2014 and now control about one third of the country, initially stated they would only shoot at ships linked to Israel, but the Houthis have fired at ships tied to dozens of nations. The U.S. government in January re-designated the Houthi movement as a terrorist organization as the group stepped up attacks in the Red Sea. 

Amid the ongoing attacks, Norah O'Donnell headed to the Red Sea. She was the first journalist to report from the southern Red Sea in the air, on the water, and inside a U.S. military command center. Her full report on the Red Sea crisis is set to air on 60 Minutes on Feb. 18, 2024.

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