A U.S. warship shot down at least three drones Sunday over the Red Sea that were believed to have been launched by Iran-backed forces in Yemen, the U.S. military announced.
According to U.S. Central Command, the USS Carney responded to four distress calls from at least three commercial vessels in international waters in the southern Red Sea on Sunday.
“These attacks represent a direct threat to international commerce and maritime security. They have jeopardized the lives of international crews representing multiple countries around the world,” the statement read. “We also have every reason to believe that these attacks, while launched by the Houthis in Yemen, are fully enabled by Iran.”
Brig. Gen. Yahya Sarea, the Houthi military spokesman, said in a televised address that the attack was launched in solidarity with Palestinians, The Washington Post reported.
According to Sarea, his Yemen-based force targeted the cargo ship Unity Explorer and another ship “after they rejected warning messages from the Yemeni naval forces.”
“We renew our warning to all Israeli ships or those associated with Israelis that they will become a legitimate target if they violate the statements of our armed forces,” Sarea said.
The first incident occurred at roughly 9:15 a.m. local time, according to Centcom, when the ship detected an anti-ship ballistic missile launch from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen toward the Unity Explorer.
The missile impacted “in the vicinity of the vessel,” Centcom said.
A second incident happened about three hours later, when a drone “launched from Houthi controlled areas in Yemen,” according to Centcom, was headed in the direction of the Carney, The destroyer shot down the drone. It was unclear if the destroyer was the target, the Pentagon said.
A third attack happened at 12:35 p.m., when the Unity Explorer was hit by a missile fired from Yemen. The Carney was notified, and another drone headed toward the area was shot down by the U.S. destroyer.
Around 3:30 p.m., a container ship named Number 9 was struck by a missile launched from Yemen, and at 4:30 p.m., the Carney shot down another drone “headed in its direction,” Centcom said.
U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria have seen rocket fire and attack drones since Israeli operations in Gaza began, the Post reported. There have been at least 76 attacks since Oct. 17, according to data provided by a U.S. defense official who spoke to The Post on the condition of anonymity.