Biden: Strikes Aren't Stopping Houthis, Will Continue

'We never said the Houthis would immediately stop,' Pentagon says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 19, 2024 5:38 AM CST
Biden Says Strikes on Houthis Will Continue
President Biden speaks to the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024.   (AP Photo/Yuri Gripas)

US forces on Thursday conducted a fifth strike against Iranian-backed Houthi rebel military sites in Yemen as President Biden acknowledged that the American and British bombardment had yet to stop attacks that have disrupted global shipping. The latest strikes destroyed two Houthi anti-ship missiles that "were aimed into the southern Red Sea and prepared to launch," US Central Command said in a statement posted on X. They were conducted by Navy F/A-18 fighter aircraft, the Pentagon said. Biden said the US would continue the strikes, even though so far they have not stopped the Houthis from continuing to harass commercial and military vessels, the AP reports.

"When you say working, are they stopping the Houthis, no. Are they going to continue, yes," Biden said in an exchange with reporters before departing the White House for a domestic policy speech in North Carolina. Hours after Biden spoke, Houthi Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree said in a prerecorded statement that its forces had carried out another missile attack against the Marshall Islands-flagged, US-owned cargo ship Chem Ranger. Saree said the attack took place in the Gulf of Aden, the waters just south of Yemen.

That attack did not affect the ship, with no injuries or damage reported, US Central Command said in a statement late Thursday. The continued harassment of the ships has driven the US and international partners to take extraordinary steps to defend them through a joint mission named Operation Prosperity Guardian, in which the consortium is trying to create a protective umbrella for the vessels by intercepting any missiles or drones that target them. It has also led the US and British militaries to take measures to knock out missile sites, radars, and air defense systems to try to tamp down the Houthis' ability to attack.

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"We never said the Houthis would immediately stop," the Pentagon's deputy press secretary, Sabrina Singh, said at a briefing, when asked why the strikes have not seemed to stop the Houthis. Since the joint US and British operation got underway last Friday, hitting 28 locations and striking more than 60 targets in that initial round, the Houthis' attacks have been "lower scale," Singh said. "These strikes will continue for as long as they need to continue," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Thursday, adding, "I'm not going to telegraph punches one way or another." (More Houthis stories.)

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