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US launches another retaliatory airstrike against Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen

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(YEMEN) — The U.S. launched another retaliatory strike against Houthi militants in Yemen on Friday following Thursday’s large-scale airstrikes, according to U.S. Central Command.

The airstrike targeted a Houthi radar site and was a direct response to the launch earlier in the day of an anti-ship fired at a ship in the Gulf of Aden that fell harmlessly into the water.

“At 3:45 a.m. (Sana’a time) on Jan 13., U.S. forces conducted a strike against a Houthi radar site in Yemen,” CENTCOM said in a statement issued after the airstrike.

“This strike was conducted by the USS Carney (DDG 64) using Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles and was a follow-on action on a specific military target associated with strikes taken on Jan. 12 designed to degrade the Houthi’s ability to attack maritime vessels, including commercial vessels,” it added.

Friday’s missed missile attack is now considered the 28th Houthi attack on commercial shipping using drones and missiles since mid-November.

On Thursday night, the U.S. struck 28 Houthi locations in Yemen associated with the drone and missile attacks targeting commercial vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

U.S. officials said the sites were struck by Tomahawk cruise missiles fired by U.S. Navy destroyers, British warplanes, and U.S. Navy fighter aircraft from the aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower.

Houthi officials had vowed to retaliate against the U.S. following Thursday’s strikes.

Speaking with reporters Friday afternoon on a trip to Pennsylvania, President Joe Biden called the strikes a “success” and said the U.S. will continue to respond if the Houthis keep up their “outrageous behavior.”

In a statement issued Thursday, Biden warned the Houthis that he would “not hesitate to direct further measures to protect our people and the free flow of international commerce as necessary.”

U.S. officials said Friday that while assessments of Thursday’s strike are still underway they believe that the Houthis’ ability to launch large-scale attacks has been degraded.

Gen. Douglas Sims, the director of the Joint Staff, told reporters earlier Friday that the strikes have degraded the Houthis capability to launch a major attack like the one they tried on Tuesday.

“I know we have degraded capability,” Sims said. “I don’t believe that they would be able to execute the same way they did the other day,” referring to Tuesday’s Houthi barrage of 21 missiles and drones.

“I would hope that they don’t respond,” he said, adding that “we’re prepared in the event that they do.” He said he hoped the Houthis would realize that trying to retaliate would be “generally fruitless.”

Sims said that any attacks would be harmful to the region.

“It does not simply affect things that are directly tied to the Houthis,” he said. “But it affects many of their partners, quite honestly, or many of the folks that they they’re working with, so I would hope that they don’t retaliate.”

Civilian casualties from Thursday night’s strikes are not expected to be “very high,” he said, given that the majority of the locations struck were in rural areas. He specifically mentioned missile launchers in mountain areas or very lowly populated areas.

“This was not necessarily about casualties, as much as it was about degrading capability,” said Sims.

“This was solely designed to get after the capability that is impeding international freedom of navigation and international waters and that’s where we feel pretty confident we did good work on that,” he said.

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