US Destroyer Shoots Down Anti-Ship Missiles Fired From Yemen

washington — A U.S. destroyer shot down two anti-ship ballistic missiles fired from Yemen on Saturday as it responded to a call for help from a container ship that was hit in a separate strike, the U.S. military said. 

The missiles were launched from territory controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, the U.S. Central Command said in a social media post, describing it as the 23rd illegal attack by the Houthis on international shipping since November 19. 

The Houthis have repeatedly targeted vessels in the vital Red Sea shipping lane with strikes they say are in support of Palestinians in Gaza, where Israel is battling militant group Hamas. 

CENTCOM said the USS Gravely and USS Laboon, both destroyers, responded to a request for assistance from the Maersk Hangzhou, a Singapore-flagged, Denmark-owned and operated container ship that reported being struck by a missile while transiting the Red Sea. 

While responding, the Gravely shot down the missiles, which were fired “toward the ships,” it said. 

The attacks by the Yemeni rebels are endangering a transit route that carries up to 12% of global trade, prompting the United States to set up a multinational naval task force earlier this month to protect Red Sea shipping. 

The latest round of the Israel-Hamas conflict began when the Palestinian militant group carried out a cross-border attack from Gaza on October 7. 

Israel said about 1,200 people were killed and some 240 captives taken in the terror attack, about 129 remain in Gaza. The Israeli military says 170 of its military personnel have been killed so far in the fighting.

Following the attack, the United States rushed military aid to Israel, which has carried out a relentless campaign in Gaza that has killed more than 21,600 people, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry. 

Those deaths have sparked widespread anger in the Middle East and provided an impetus for attacks by armed groups across the region that are opposed to Israel. 

U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria have repeatedly come under fire from drone and rocket attacks that Washington says are being carried out by Iran-backed armed groups. 

Some material for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.