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Houthi attack on ship off Yemen kills at least 3 people as Iran says it’s seizing an oil shipment

A missile attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on a commercial ship in the Gulf of Aden killed at least three people on Wednesday and forced the rest of the crew to abandon the vessel, according to U.S. officials.

Four other crewmembers were injured, with three in critical condition, and the vessel sustained “significant damage,” U.S. Central Command said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. The attack came a day after a U.S. Navy destroyer shot down drones and a missile launched toward the warship in the nearby Red Sea.

The Wednesday attack on the Liberian-owned, Barbados-flagged bulk carrier called True Confidence is the first fatal attack since the Houthis launched their campaign of assaults on shipping, which they call a response to Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“This is the fifth ASBM fired by Houthis in the last two days,” CENTCOM said, referring to anti-ship ballistic missiles. “These reckless attacks by the Houthis have disrupted global trade and taken the lives of international seafarers.”

“The targeting operation came after the ship’s crew rejected warning messages from the Yemeni naval forces,” a Houthi spokesman said in a televised statement, according to the Reuters news service.

The British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center said the True Confidence was hit and sustained damage. The extent of the damage remained unclear, but the crew fled the ship and deployed lifeboats, an official told The Associated Press.

A U.S. defense official earlier Wednesday told CBS News six other people were injured in the attack.

At the State Department in Washington, spokesman Matthew Miller confirmed the loss of life at a briefing with reporters. “We continue to watch these reckless attacks with no regard for the well-being of innocent civilians who are transiting through the Red Sea. And now they have, unfortunately and tragically, killed innocent civilians,” he said.

The U.S. military’s Central Command said earlier that the Houthis had targeted the USS Carney on Tuesday, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer that’s been involved in the U.S.-led campaign against the Iran-backed Yemeni rebels.

Iran says it’s seizing oil cargo destined for Chevron
Iran, the Houthis’ primary backer, said Wednesday that it would confiscate a $50 million cargo of Kuwaiti crude oil that had been destined for American energy firm Chevron Corp. The cargo is aboard a tanker that Iranian forces seized nearly a year ago. It marks the latest twist in a yearslong shadow war playing out in the Mideast’s waterways even before the Houthi attacks began.

Iran announced the seizure of the oil on the Advantage Sweet with a statement carried by the Mizan news agency, which is run by the Islamic republic’s judiciary.

Iranian commandos rappelled from a helicopter down onto the vessel in late April 2023, which Iran claimed had collided with another ship, without offering any evidence.

The court order for the seizure announced on Wednesday offered an entirely different reason for the confiscation, however.

Mizan said it was part of a court order over U.S. sanctions that allegedly barred the importation of a Swedish medicine used to treat patients suffering from epidermolysis bullosa, a rare genetic condition that causes blisters all over the body and eyes. It did not reconcile the different reasons for the seizure.

The Advantage Sweet had been in the Persian Gulf in late April, but its track showed no unusual behavior as it transited through the Strait of Hormuz, where a fifth of all traded oil passes. Iran has made allegations in other seizures that later fell apart as it became clear Tehran was trying to leverage the capture as a chip to negotiate with foreign nations.

 

 

Houthis vow to continue attacks until Gaza war ends
Yemen
The guided-missile destroyer USS Carney is seen in Souda Bay, Greece, in a U.S. Navy file photo.
PETTY OFFICER 3RD CLASS BILL DODGE/U.S. NAVY VIA AP
The Houthi attack on the Carney on Tuesday involved bomb-carrying drones and one anti-ship ballistic missile, the U.S. military’s Central Command said.

The U.S. later launched an airstrike destroying three anti-ship missiles and three bomb-carrying drone boats in Yemen, CENTCOM said.

Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, a Houthi military spokesperson, acknowledged the attack, but claimed its forces had targeted two American warships, without elaborating.

The Houthis “will not stop until the aggression is stopped and the siege on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip is lifted,” Saree said.

Saree did not acknowledge the later U.S. airstrikes. The Houthis have not offered any assessment of the damage they’ve suffered in the American-led strikes that began in January, though they have said at least 22 of their fighters have been killed.

Since November, the rebels have repeatedly targeted ships in the Red Sea and surrounding waters over the Israel-Hamas war. Those vessels have included at least one with cargo bound for Iran, the Houthis’ main benefactor, and an aid ship later bound for Houthi-controlled territory.

Despite more than a month and a half of U.S.-led airstrikes, Houthi rebels have remained capable of launching significant attacks. They include the attack last month on a cargo ship carrying fertilizer, the Rubymar, which sank on Saturday after drifting for several days, and the downing of an American drone worth tens of millions of dollars.

Ship seizures and explosions have roiled the region since 2019. The incidents began after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, which saw Tehran drastically limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

The U.S. Navy also has blamed Iran for a series of limpet mine attacks on vessels that damaged tankers in 2019, as well as for a fatal drone attack on an Israeli-linked oil tanker that killed two European crew members in 2021. Tehran denies carrying out the attacks.

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