Middle East crisis live: UK says airstrikes are in ‘self-defence’ as Pentagon says bombing targeted Houthi underground missile sites | World news


UK defence secretary: strikes conducted ‘in self-defence’ to ‘degrade’ Houthi capabilities

The UK government has confirmed its role in the joint airstrikes on Monday, saying precision-guided bombs were used to hit two military sites in order to help “support regional stability across the Middle East”.

The ministry of defence said in a statement: “Four Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4s, supported by a pair of Voyager tankers, joined US forces in a deliberate strike against Houthi sites in Yemen.”

“Our aircraft used Paveway IV precision guided bombs to strike multiple targets at two military sites in the vicinity of Sanaa airfield. These locations were being used to enable the continued intolerable attacks against international shipping in the Red Sea. This follows our initial operation on 11 January, and subsequent US action, to degrade the Houthis’ capability to conduct such attacks.”

The UK defence secretary, Grant Shapps, said in a statement: “Dangerous Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea have continued to threaten the lives of sailors and disrupt shipping at an intolerable cost to the global economy. Along with our US partners, we have conducted a further round of strikes in self-defence.”

He went on: “Aimed at degrading Houthi capabilities, this action will deal another blow to their limited stockpiles and ability to threaten global trade. Alongside our ongoing diplomatic efforts, we will continue to support regional stability across the Middle East, working hand in hand with our like-minded partners.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer and shadow defence secretary John Healey did not receive a briefing ahead of the latest airstrikes (contrary to ten days ago), according to PA.

Undated handout photo issued by the Ministry of Defence of RAF Armourers (Weapon Technicians) preparing a Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4. Royal Air Force Typhoon aircraft have conducted precision strike operations against Houthi military targets in response to further attacks on shipping in the Red Sea.

Undated handout photo issued by the Ministry of Defence of RAF Armourers (Weapon Technicians) preparing a Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4. Royal Air Force Typhoon aircraft have conducted precision strike operations against Houthi military targets in response to further attacks on shipping in the Red Sea. Photograph: AS1 Leah Jones/MoD/Crown Copyright/PA

Updated at 23.49 CET

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Our Defence and security editor Dan Sabbagh has the full report on this latest round of strikes:

The US and the UK have conducted a further round of strikes against Houthi targets, the second time in a month the two countries have bombed Yemen together in an attempt to stop the rebel group targeting shipping in the southern Red Sea.

A joint statement from both countries said that they had conducted “an additional round of proportionate and necessary strikes” against eight Houthi targets in Yemen, with the support of Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands.

The number of targets is considerably lower than the 60 which were struck in the first air raids on Yemen made by the two countries 10 days earlier, but their effect and the number of casualties caused is unclear.

Read the rest here:

There’s a bit more detail on the strikes coming from inside Yemen.

Yemen’s official Saba news agency said that “American-British forces are launching raids on the capital of Sanaa” and several other parts of Yemen, Agence France-Presse reports.

Houthi TV outlet al-Masirah said four strikes targeted the Al-Dailami military base north of the capital, which is under rebel control.

The Houthis began striking Red Sea shipping in November, saying they were hitting Israeli-linked vessels in support of Palestinians in Gaza during the war with Israel.

The Houthis have since declared American and British interests to be legitimate targets as well.

Reged Ahmad here picking up the blog from Jem Bartholomew

US Central Command (Centcom) has posted some of the latest video and images of their airstrikes against Yemen’s Houthis.

In a post on X, Centcom says the strikes are “part of ongoing international efforts to respond to increased Houthi destabilizing and illegal activities in the region”.

The latest barrage of allied attacks marks the eighth time the US has conducted strikes on Houthi sites since 12 January, Associated Press reports.

U.S. Forces, Allies Conduct Joint Strikes in Yemen

As part of ongoing international efforts to respond to increased Houthi destabilizing and illegal activities in the region, on Jan. 22 at approximately 11:59 p.m. (Sanaa / Yemen time), U.S. Central Command forces alongside UK… pic.twitter.com/BQwEKZqMAo

— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) January 22, 2024

Summary

Here’s what we know so far.

The US undertook its eighth round of airstrikes against Houthi targets in Yemen on Monday at 11.59pm local time. A Pentagon statement said the bombing was proportionate and necessary.

US military officials said the strikes were successful and had “good impacts” in all eight locations. US Central Command said the strikes were to “respond to increased Houthi destabilizing and illegal activities”.

The UK joined the airstrikes for the second time in ten days. Defence secretary Grant Shapps said the attacks were “in self-defence” and in the interests of degrading Houthi capabilities.

A Houthi spokesman responded on X/Twitter to say the airstrikes “will only increase the Yemeni people’s determination.” Mohammed Al-Bukhaiti accused the UK and US of neing “perpetrators” to “genocide” in Gaza.

UK prime minister Rishi Sunak did not brief Labour leader Keir Starmer or House or Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle ahead of the strikes. Sunak recieved flak ten days ago for not informing parliament beforehand and this time did not brief Labour’s top team either.

The Pentagon said the operation targeted a Houthi underground storage site as well as missile and air surveillance sites. The UK ministry of defence added that it was involved in hitting multiple targets at two military sites with guided precision bombs in the vicinity of Sana’a airfield.

The Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, have disrupted the global commercial shipping route in the Red Sea and forced ships to go around the Cape of Good Hope. The Houthis say they are acting to support Palestine amid Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, in which officials say 25,000 people have been killed, but Houthi attacks have also targeted ships with no connection to Israel.

The action followed a call on Monday between Sunak and US president Joe Biden. The leaders discussed further “disrupting and degrading Houthi capabilities,” a US spokesperson said.

The UK involvement on Monday appears to have been smaller than 11 January’s strikes. Ten days ago, US and UK warships and jets hit more than 60 targets in 28 locations. This time, it was eight strikes, according to a joint Pentagon statement with Australia, Bahrain, Canada, the UK and Netherlands, which supported the latest military action.

That’s all from me, Jem Bartholomew in London, as I hand over to my colleague Reged Ahmad in Sydney, who is taking over the Guardian’s live coverage from here. See you soon.

Houthis protest against US and UK strikes in Yemen, attending a demonstration against the US and UK attacks while carrying Palestinian flags at the Bani Hushaish area in Sanaa, Yemen on 22 January.

Houthis protest against US and UK strikes in Yemen, attending a demonstration against the US and UK attacks while carrying Palestinian flags at the Bani Hushaish area in Sanaa, Yemen on 22 January. Photograph: Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu/Getty Images

Updated at 00.21 CET

Houthi spokesperson calls UK and US ‘perpetrators’ of ‘genocide’ in Gaza and says airstrikes ‘will only increase the Yemeni people’s determination’

Mohammed Al-Bukhaiti, a senior political official and spokesman for Yemen’s Houthi rebels, has posted on X/Twitter in response to Monday’s US and UK airstrikes.

“The American-British aggression will only increase the Yemeni people’s determination to carry out their moral and humanitarian responsibilities towards the oppressed in Gaza,” he said. “The war today is between Yemen, which is struggling to stop the crimes of genocide, and the American-British coalition to support and protect its perpetrators.”

Posting an undated video that appeared to show children dying, he added: “Thus, every party or individual in this world is faced with two choices that have no thirds: either to preserve its humanity and stand with Yemen, or to lose it and stand with the American-British alliance. Who do you stand with as you watch these crimes?”

Getty Images has some pictures coming out of Houthi-controlled Sana’a, Yemen, from Monday.

The Houthis are a Shia rebel group, backed by Iran, that has held Sana’a since 2014, and been at war with a Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen’s exiled government since 2015.

A Houthi fighter manning a machine gun mounted on a vehicle during a tribal parade held against the United States-led aerial attacks launched on sites in Yemen, and solidarity with Palestinians, on January 22, 2024, near Sana’a, Yemen.

A Houthi fighter manning a machine gun mounted on a vehicle during a tribal parade held against the United States-led aerial attacks launched on sites in Yemen, and solidarity with Palestinians, on January 22, 2024, near Sana’a, Yemen. Photograph: Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images

Yemen’s Houthi followers lift their rifles and shout slogans as they attend a tribal rally and parade held against the United States-led aerial attacks launched on sites in Yemen, and solidarity with Palestinians, on January 22, 2024, near Sana’a, Yemen.

Yemen’s Houthi followers lift their rifles and shout slogans as they attend a tribal rally and parade held against the United States-led aerial attacks launched on sites in Yemen, and solidarity with Palestinians, on January 22, 2024, near Sana’a, Yemen. Photograph: Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images

Yemen's Houthi followers take a rest ahead of taking part in a tribal rally and parade against the United States-led aerial attacks launched on sites in Yemen, and solidarity with Palestinians, on January 22, 2024, near Sana'a, Yemen.

Yemen’s Houthi followers take a rest ahead of taking part in a tribal rally and parade against the United States-led aerial attacks launched on sites in Yemen, and solidarity with Palestinians, on January 22, 2024, near Sana’a, Yemen. Photograph: Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images

Yemen's Houthi followers take part in a tribal parade held against the United States-led aerial attacks launched on sites in Yemen, and solidarity with Palestinians, on January 22, 2024, near Sana'a, Yemen.

Yemen’s Houthi followers take part in a tribal parade held against the United States-led aerial attacks launched on sites in Yemen, and solidarity with Palestinians, on January 22, 2024, near Sana’a, Yemen. Photograph: Mohammed Hamoud/Getty ImagesUK defence secretary: strikes conducted ‘in self-defence’ to ‘degrade’ Houthi capabilities

The UK government has confirmed its role in the joint airstrikes on Monday, saying precision-guided bombs were used to hit two military sites in order to help “support regional stability across the Middle East”.

The ministry of defence said in a statement: “Four Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4s, supported by a pair of Voyager tankers, joined US forces in a deliberate strike against Houthi sites in Yemen.”

“Our aircraft used Paveway IV precision guided bombs to strike multiple targets at two military sites in the vicinity of Sanaa airfield. These locations were being used to enable the continued intolerable attacks against international shipping in the Red Sea. This follows our initial operation on 11 January, and subsequent US action, to degrade the Houthis’ capability to conduct such attacks.”

The UK defence secretary, Grant Shapps, said in a statement: “Dangerous Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea have continued to threaten the lives of sailors and disrupt shipping at an intolerable cost to the global economy. Along with our US partners, we have conducted a further round of strikes in self-defence.”

He went on: “Aimed at degrading Houthi capabilities, this action will deal another blow to their limited stockpiles and ability to threaten global trade. Alongside our ongoing diplomatic efforts, we will continue to support regional stability across the Middle East, working hand in hand with our like-minded partners.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer and shadow defence secretary John Healey did not receive a briefing ahead of the latest airstrikes (contrary to ten days ago), according to PA.

Undated handout photo issued by the Ministry of Defence of RAF Armourers (Weapon Technicians) preparing a Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4. Royal Air Force Typhoon aircraft have conducted precision strike operations against Houthi military targets in response to further attacks on shipping in the Red Sea.

Undated handout photo issued by the Ministry of Defence of RAF Armourers (Weapon Technicians) preparing a Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4. Royal Air Force Typhoon aircraft have conducted precision strike operations against Houthi military targets in response to further attacks on shipping in the Red Sea. Photograph: AS1 Leah Jones/MoD/Crown Copyright/PA

Updated at 23.49 CET

Allied strikes targeted a Houthi underground storage site and missile and surveillance sites – Reuters

Monday’s allied strikes targeted a Houthi underground storage site as well as missile and air surveillance sites, according to a Pentagon statement seen by Reuters.

“These precision strikes are intended to disrupt and degrade the capabilities that the Houthis use to threaten global trade and the lives of innocent mariners,” the statement said.

The Pentagon detailed the eight new strikes in a joint statement with the UK, as well as from Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands, which supported the latest military action.

The statement said the strikes were proportionate and necessary.

According to PA, the latest set of UK strikes could raise questions about the prime minister consulting MPs before military action. Rishi Sunak was criticised for authorising the first strikes when parliament was not sitting, with some MPs demanding House of Commons scrutiny. Sunak did brief opposition leader Keir Starmer and shadow defence secretary John Healey, according to PA.

Updated at 23.37 CET

The US-UK strikes are currently ongoing, according to Sky news, against Houthi targets in Yemen.

Although the strikes are only the second time British forces have joined in, for US forces they are the eighth set of attacks in rceent weeks, retaliating against Houthi attacks on shipping in a crucial international commercial route.

Earlier on Monday, the US military denied claims made by the Houthis that they had attacked an American cargo ship, Ocean Jazz, in the Gulf of Aden.

A statement from the Houthi military spokesperson, Yahya Sarea, reported by Reuters: “The Yemeni armed forces continue to retaliate to any American or British aggression against our country by targeting all sources of threat in the Red and Arab Sea.” The US military denied the claims.

The continued strikes show how the UK and US continue to be drawn into conflict in the Middle East amid Hamas’s attack on Israel on 7 October and Israel’s destructive ground campaign in Gaza, in which over 25,000 people have been killed.

On Monday, Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, head of the US Navy’s 5th Fleet and the top Navy commander in the Middle East, told AP that Iran is “very directly involved” in ship attacks that Yemen’s Houthi rebels have carried out since October – but stopped short of saying Iran is directing them.

Undated handout photo issued by the Ministry of Defence of a Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4 being prepared to take off. Royal Air Force Typhoon aircraft have conducted precision strike operations against Houthi military targets in response to further attacks on shipping in the Red Sea. Issue date: Monday 22 January 2024.

Undated handout photo issued by the Ministry of Defence of a Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4 being prepared to take off. Royal Air Force Typhoon aircraft have conducted precision strike operations against Houthi military targets in response to further attacks on shipping in the Red Sea. Issue date: Monday 22 January 2024. Photograph: AS1 Leah Jones/MoD/Crown Copyright/PA

Updated at 23.55 CET

Reuters says it confirmed with three US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, that fresh airstrikes were carried out, but did not say how many targets were hit.

Before, US and UK forces mainly hit Houthi missiles and radar sites, striking more than 60 targets in 28 locations, according to AP:

The Houthis’ media office said in an online statement that several American and British raids targeted Yemen’s capital, Sanaa. And Jamal Hassan, a resident from south Sanaa, told The Associated Press that two strikes landed near his home, setting off car alarms in the street. An Associated Press journalist in Sanaa also heard aircraft flying above the skies of Sanaa overnight Monday.

Updated at 22.57 CET

Here is a bit more from AP on the latest joint airstrikes:

US officials say the US and British militaries are bombing multiple sites used by the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen.

It is the second time the two allies have conducted coordinated retaliatory strikes on the rebels’ missile launching capabilities.

Officials say warship- and submarine-launched Tomahawk missiles and fighter jets were used to take out Houthi missile storage sites and launchers.

The joint operation comes about 10 days after US and British warships and fighter jets struck more than 60 targets in 28 locations.

US and UK launch second joint airstrikes on Houthi missile sites in Yemen

US and British forces have conducted joint airstrikes targeting Houthi missile sites in Yemen for a second time.

The latest strikes came shortly after the White House said Joe Biden, the US president, had spoken to the UK prime minister Rishi Sunak, emphasising the need to continue “disrupting and degrading” Houthi military capabilities.

Three US officials confirmed the latest move against the Iran-aligned group over its targeting of Red Sea shipping, according to Reuters.

The US military denied claims that the Yemeni rebels had successfully targeted a US military support ship earlier in the day.

White House spokesman John Kirby said the US president had discussed the situation with the British prime minister on Monday, following continued Houthi attacks on shipping transiting the Red Sea and nearby Gulf of Aden over the past week.

“They talked about what’s going on in the Red Sea and the need for a continued international multilateral approach to disrupting and degrading Houthi capabilities,” Kirby told reporters in Washington, in an apparent reference to military action.

I’m Fran Lawther and we’ll be bringing you the latest updates as we get them.

Updated at 23.00 CET





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