The leader of Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels threatened on Thursday the United States and Britain with even larger attacks in the Red Sea after their navies intercepted a major one.
US and British forces shot down 18 drones and three missiles launched by the Huthis late Tuesday in what London described as their biggest attack so far in solidarity with Palestinians in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
“Any American aggression will never go without a response,” rebel leader Abdulmalik al-Huthi said in speech broadcast live by the Huthis’ Al-Masirah television.
“The response to any American attack will not only be at the level of the operation that was recently carried out… but it will be greater than that.”
The rebels said Tuesday’s attack was in retaliation for the US Navy’s killing of 10 Huthi fighters on December 31 as they attempted to board a merchant vessel passing through the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen.
The Huthis have carried out a growing number of attacks on Red Sea shipping since the Gaza war erupted with Hamas’s unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7.
The UN Security Council on Wednesday adopted a resolution that demanded the Huthis “immediately cease” their attacks.
The Huthi campaign, which the rebels say only targets vessels linked to Israel or its allies, has caused major disruption with many shipping firms opting for a much longer route around the tip of Africa for security concerns.
Washington says more than 20 nations have joined the US-led Operation Prosperity Guardian to protect the vital sea lane which usually carries about 12 percent of maritime trade.
The Huthi leader said that “there is no problem for the Europeans, China and the whole world to pass through the Red Sea.”
“The only and exclusive target are ships linked to Israel.”
But he added that any government that joins the military action against the rebels’ naval forces would face reprisals.
“Whoever wants to get involved, attack our dear people and target the naval forces is actually risking their fleet and commercial ships,” Huthi warned.
“We hope that the rest of the Arab and Islamic countries will never get involved with the Americans, the Israelis and the British.”