US claims ship hit by Houthis was headed to Iran

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A Houthi military spokesman reiterated the threat that attacks from Yemen will persist until Israel halts its war in Gaza.

The United States has claimed that a cargo ship hit by missiles fired by Houthi fighters in Yemen was headed to Iran.

US Central Command (CENTCOM) said early on Tuesday that the MV Star Iris was transiting through the Red Sea to reach the port city of Bandar Imam Khomeini in southern Iran.

The US military asserted in a post on X that the vessel was carrying a shipment of corn from Brazil. It identified the Star Iris as a “Greek-owned, Marshall Islands-flagged cargo vessel”.

The Iran-linked Houthis had identified the vessel as US-linked on Monday and confirmed hitting it while it travelled in waters off Yemen.

The armed group said that the ship was targeted with “a number of suitable naval missiles” in “accurate and direct” strikes.

The Houthis have attacked numerous ships that it said were linked to Israel, the US or United Kingdom in the Red Sea in recent months. The campaign, which the group claims is a show of unity with Palestinians and will continue while Israel continues to bombard Gaza, has disrupted the key trade route between Europe and Asia.

Yahya Saree, the Houthis military spokesman said that the attack on the vessel, owned by the US-listed, Greece-based firm Star Bulk Carriers Corp, came “in vindication of the oppressed Palestinian people, in support and solidarity with our brothers in the Gaza Strip”.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) confirmed that a vessel was attacked by two missiles at 00:35 GMT some 40 nautical miles (74km) south of al-Mukha (Mocha) in Yemen.

“The crew are reported safe and the vessel is proceeding to next port of call,” it said, advising transit through waters near Yemen with caution.

Saree also called the attack “retaliation to the American-British aggression on our country”. In recent weeks, the US and UK have responded to the continuing attacks on maritime traffic by launching strikes on Houthi-held Yemeni territory.

However, the Houthis appear undeterred. The spokesman reiterated that the group intends to continue to target vessels in the Red Sea until the war ends.

The latest Houthi attack comes less than two days after the latest “self-defence strikes” by the US military, which has been pounding Yemen with munitions launched from aircraft and warships near Yemen.

CENTCOM said on Sunday that its newest attacks a day earlier had targeted two unmanned surface vessels and three mobile anti-ship cruise missiles.

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