On Friday night, US and British forces carried out large-scale strikes against the Huthi movement in Yemen, reportedly hitting at least 60 targets in 16 different locations.
Analysts say the conflict in the Middle East is escalating, with the entire region at risk of being drawn into a full-scale war.
The Iranian-backed Houthi rebels control large parts of Yemen and the Red Sea coast and have recently attacked a large number of merchant ships in the area, prompting many shipping companies to avoid Suez and take the longer route around Africa.
Late Thursday night, the U.S. and Britain carried out what they called a “comprehensive military strike” against the Yemeni rebels, hitting 60 targets in 16 different locations, including weapons storage facilities and air defense systems, according to U.S. officials.
Fighter jets, ships and submarines took part in the attacks, and Tomahawk missiles were fired at rebel positions. “Strategic support” was also reportedly provided by Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands.
The strikes are described as a direct response to Huthis attacks on ships, and are expected to be followed by similar attacks if the rebels target more ships in the future.
Vows to retaliate
Huthi spokesman Nasr Aldeen described the Anglo-American attack as “a brutal assault on our country” and vowed to retaliate.
– We will not retreat from our support for the Palestinian people at any cost, he said.
Analysts say there is a significant risk that the attacks on Yemen could lead to a wider regional war in the Middle East and draw more actors, such as Iran, into a military war against the US and its allies.
Iran, in particular, has long been identified in neoconservative and left-liberal American circles as the enemy and the greatest threat in the Middle East, and for decades influential voices have argued that the US should invade the country, much as it did in Iraq, Libya, or Afghanistan.
The Huthi rebels have previously stated that their ship attacks are in support of the Palestinians in Gaza and Hamas. Initially, they also attacked mainly ships to and from Israel, but now they seem to be attacking ships of all nationalities, regardless of destination.