The Houthi rebels in Yemen do not give the impression of wanting to give up ballast in the Red Sea. Sunday, January 14, around 4:45 p.m. local time (2:45 p.m. Paris time), “an anti-ship cruise missile [was] fired from areas [controlled by] Iran-backed Houthi militants toward the “USS Laboon,” a US destroyer operating in the southern Red Sea, the US Middle East Command (Centcom) reported. “The missile was shot down in the vicinity of the coast of Hodeida [in western Yemen] by an American fighter jet,” Centcom added, specifying that there were no injuries or damage.

The attack appears to be the first to target a US destroyer, amid attacks by Yemeni rebels on ships in the Red Sea that they believe are linked to Israel. Attacks carried out in “solidarity” with the Palestinians of Gaza, where Israel and Hamas have been at war since the deadly attack by the Palestinian movement on Israeli soil on October 7.

Washington has denied reports from Houthi media reporting new “American-British strikes” carried out on Sunday against the port city of Hodeida. “No US or coalition strikes took place today” on Sunday, a US official said on condition of anonymity.

Fear of conflict spreading

US and British forces struck Houthi targets across Yemen on Friday, reinforcing fears of a regional spread of the war between Israel and Hamas. The rebels then fired “at least one missile” which, however, did not hit any ships, the US military said. Then, on Saturday morning, a new American strike was carried out against a radar site in Yemen, the same source reported.

About 12% of global trade passes through the Red Sea, but since mid-November, Houthi attacks have forced many shipping companies to avoid the area, taking the longer route around the tip of Africa, to price of additional transport costs and longer delivery times.