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Yemen - Cruise Missile Strike 13 October 2016

A US warship came under fire in the Red Sea from multiple cruise missiles fired from the coast of Yemen. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said the guided missile destroyer USS Mason deployed electronic countermeasures to foil the attack and was not hit in the incident 15 October 2016 -- the third such attack on US naval vessels in the area in the past week.

Early on the morning local time 13 October 2016, the US military struck three radar sites in Houthi-controlled territory on Yemen's Red Sea coast. Initial assessments showed the sites were destroyed. The strikes -- authorized by President Obama at the recommendation of Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph Dunford -- targeted radar sites involved in the recent missile launches threatening USS Mason and other vessels operating in international waters in the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandeb. The attack on coastal targets was carried out by Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from the destroyer USS Nitze. These limited self-defense strikes were conducted to protect US personnel, ships, and freedom of navigation in this important maritime passageway. The Pentagon stated "The United States will respond to any further threat to our ships and commercial traffic, as appropriate, and will continue to maintain our freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, the Bab al-Mandeb, and elsewhere around the world."

For the second time in four days, the guided missile destroyer USS Mason responded 12 October 2016 to an incoming missile threat while conducting routine operations in international waters off the Red Sea coast of Yemen. At about 6 p.m. local time -- 11 a.m. EDT -- the ship detected at least one missile that officials assess originated from Houthi-controlled territory near Hudaydah, Yemen. The ship employed defensive countermeasures, and the missile did not reach USS Mason.

"There was no damage to the ship or its crew," Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said. "USS Mason will continue its operations. Those who threaten our forces should know that U.S. commanders retain the right to defend their ships, and we will respond to this threat at the appropriate time and in the appropriate manner." Homeported in Norfolk, Virginia, USS Mason was deployed as part of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group.

The US military said 11 October 2016 two missiles were launched from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen in the direction of a US ship in the Persian Gulf. Officials say the two missiles, launched over a 60-minute period, landed in the water but did not make contact with the USS Mason. "There were no injuries to our sailors and no damage to the ship. We assess the missiles were launched from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen," Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said. It was not immediately clear whether the U.S. destroyer was the intended target of the two missiles. "In the first instance USS Mason employed onboard defensive measures, although it is unclear whether this led to the missile striking the water or whether it would have struck the water anyway," a US defense official said on condition of anonymity. The official said the incident remained under investigation.

neither the Mason nor the amphibious transport USS Ponce was hit in the October 9 attacks.

The Pentagon had been providing logistic and surveillance support to Saudi Arabia in its military aggression against Yemen, the kingdom's impoverished southern neighbor, which has killed more than 10,000 Yemenis since its onset in March 2015. The Saudi-led coalition, that includes Egypt, had almost full control of the Red Sea, from its entrance at the Mandeb Strait to the Suez Canal.

On October 10, 2015, Yemeni army forces destroyed a Saudi warship in a missile attack in the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. That came only three days after Iranian sources reported they had destroyed another Arab vessel in the area. Yemeni forces successfully targeted and destroyed an Emirati military vessel near the Red Sea port city of Mokha. The US-made HSV Swift was a high-speed logistical ship capable of locating mines, controlling military operations and transporting troops and equipment. Over 20 sailors were reportedly killed on board the warship. details surrounding the attack on the UAE-operated logistics ship Swift remain very fuzzy. Most news outlets reported the ship was sunk, but it appears the ship was towed to Eritrea for examination.

The official position from the UAE government, as quoted by UAE news agency WAM, states: "In more than a year of operating routine journeys to Aden, the civilian ship has carried thousands of tonnes of humanitarian assistance and more than 1,000 wounded people, along with their companions, in addition to large equipment for the electricity, water and healthcare sectors which had significantly eased the suffering of the residents of Aden through the restoration of the infrastructure in these vital sectors.” High-ranking Yemeni sources told Asharq Al-Awsat 13 October 2016 that around forty Iranian warships that day violated Yemeni territorial waters. According to Yemeni government sources, there was a huge probability that these warships were smuggling weapons for the Houthis and transporting mercenaries from some African countries to join the insurgents. “The Yemeni cabinet session, on Wednesday, discussed this issue and the way to protect Yemeni territorial waters; the government asked the Arab coalition forces to help guard the Yemeni waters and decided to address the UN and Security Council on the repeated violations by the Iranian warships,” reported the sources. Iran deployed a fleet of warships to the Gulf of Aden, the republic's naval commander confirmed 12 October 2016. The deployment followed US cruise missile strikes on Yemeni positions thought to be under Houthi rebel control. The Iranian Navy sent the warships to international waters for a mission that includes entering the area off the southern coast of Yemen, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari confirmed. The area is among the world’s busiest maritime trade routes. “The fleet will provide security to sea ways for Iranian vessels and protect Iran’s interests on the high seas,” Sayyari told Press TV. “The 34th Fleet is comprised of the Bushehr logistic vessel and Alborz destroyer, and will conduct a three-month mission.”

The commander said the fleet had departed from the southern port city of Bandar Abbas in Iran. He dismissed claims the fleet has been deployed to intervene in the conflict in Yemen. Iranian ships had been tasked with providing security for civil boat traffic and protecting commercial vessels and oil tankers from pirates in the region, the rear admiral told Iranian television. “The Iranians have a permanent presence in that part of the world ... [as] there is a lot of instability in the Red Sea and Iranian ships are there to prevent pirates from boarding Iranian ships and they've been doing that for a number of years now, having also protected the ships of other countries,” political analyst and Tehran university professor Mohammad Marandi told RT, adding that the “real problem is the US presence” in the region.

The Houthis denied carrying out the attack, however. A military source reportedly told Saba news agency – a media outlet run by the group – that the assault did not come from areas under its control. “These allegations are unfounded and the army as well popular forces have nothing to do with this action,” the source said. “The US allegations just came in the context of creating false justifications to pave the way for Saudi-led coalition to escalate their… attacks against Yemen and to cover for crimes continually committed by the aggression coalition against the Yemeni people and to continue an all-out blockade,” the spokesman added. He said the army is ready to confront any future aggression against the country, whatever the justification.

Days earlier, around 150 people were killed and hundreds injured in one of the bloodiest incidents in the Yemeni conflict. The bombardment 08 Octobe 2016 reportedly carried out by Saudi-led coalition jets devastated a funeral ceremony held in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a. Saudi Arabia denied responsibility for the attack. Meanwhile, images and footage of what some have claimed to be fragments of a US-made bomb found at the scene of the deadly strike in Sanaa emerged online.

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Page last modified: 02-02-2017 19:36:26 ZULU