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US-Led Red Sea Patrol Force Formed in Response to Attacks by Houthis Backing Palestinians

 Several countries have agreed to jointly carry out patrols in the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden to try to safeguard commercial shipping against attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who say they are supporting Palestinians under siege by Israel in the Gaza Strip.

A statement on Tuesday by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, on a visit to Bahrain, identified several countries taking part in an international force. It was unclear whether those countries are willing to do what U.S. warships have done in recent days – shoot down Houthi missiles and drones and rush to the aid of commercial ships under attack.

“This is an international challenge that demands collective action. Therefore today I am announcing the establishment of Operation Prosperity Guardian, an important new multinational security initiative,” the statement said.

It identified participating nations led by the United States as including among others the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles and Spain.

The Iran-backed Houthis have waded into the Israel-Hamas conflict by attacking vessels in vital shipping lanes and even firing drones and missiles at Israel, more than 1,000 miles from their seat of power in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa.

Houthis attacked two commercial shipping vessels in the southern Red Sea on Monday, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement. The chemical/oil tanker motor vessel Swan Atlantic was attacked by a drone and an anti-ship ballistic missile, it said. At about the same time in a separate incident, the bulk cargo ship MSC Clara reported an explosion in the water near its location, CENTCOM said.

Source : Reuters