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US Secretary of Defense Launches Operation against Houthi Threats in the Red Sea

US Secretary of Defense Launches Operation against Houthi Threats in the Red Sea

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced a new U.S.-led security operation in the southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden this week.

“I am announcing the establishment of Operation Prosperity Guardian, an important new multinational security initiative under the umbrella of the Combined Maritime Forces and the leadership of its Task Force 153, which focuses on security in the Red Sea,” Austin said in a statement.

The announcement comes after Houthi soldiers attacked commercial marine traffic in the area.

“The recent escalation in reckless Houthi attacks originating from Yemen threatens the free flow of commerce, endangers innocent mariners, and violates international law,” Austin said. “The Red Sea is a critical waterway that has been essential to freedom of navigation and a major commercial corridor that facilitates international trade.”

The operation includes the countries of the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles and Spain.

On Monday, the USS Carney responded to a distress call from a commercial vessel in the southern Red Sea. A U.S. military official said it was attacked by “multiple projectiles … launched from a Houthi-controlled area in Yemen.”

At about the same time as the attack on the commercial vessel, the Swan Atlantic, a second commercial ship in the Red Sea, was also attacked by Houthi militants.

The Houthis claimed responsibility for the attacks but said that “no harm will be dealt” to ships heading to ports around the world, “except for Israeli ports.”

Last week, the USS Carney shot down 14 drones from “Houthi-controlled areas” of Yemen. Meanwhile, the USS Thomas Hudner shot down multiple one-way attack drones from Yemen last month.

Austin was in Israel on Monday to discuss the situation with Israeli officials. He said that they had discussed options “toward a future for Gaza after Hamas” with Israeli officials and the protection of civilians in Gaza, and the need “to take urgent action to stabilize the West Bank.”

“Attacks by extremist settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank must stop,” Austin said. “And those committing the violence must be held accountable.”

Photo Courtesy: ©Getty Images/Benny Winslow

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.