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Yemen rebels vow to keep up Red Sea attacks despite new task force

SANAA: Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels said on Tuesday (Dec 19) they would not halt attacks on Red Sea shipping in solidarity with Gaza despite the announcement by the United States of a new maritime protection force.

The flurry of drone and missile attacks by the rebels, the latest of which targeted two vessels on Monday, threaten to upend global trade flows, with major shipping firms halting traffic through the Bab al-Mandeb strait.

“Even if America succeeds in mobilising the entire world, our military operations will not stop … no matter the sacrifices it costs us,” senior Houthi official Mohammed al-Bukhaiti said on X, formerly Twitter.

Rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam said the “US-formed coalition aims to protect Israel and militarise the sea”, adding that “whoever seeks to expand the conflict must bear the consequences of those actions”.

The two officials spoke after Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin announced a 10-nation coalition on Monday to quell Houthi missile and drone attacks on shipping passing through the Red Sea, with Britain, France and Italy among countries joining the “multinational security initiative”.

Austin said the force would operate “with the goal of ensuring freedom of navigation for all countries and bolstering regional security and prosperity”.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have launched a flurry of drone and missile attacks on vessels passing through the Red Sea, aimed at pressuring Israel over its devastating war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

On Monday, they claimed attacks on two vessels in the vital shipping lane between Asia and Europe, including the Norwegian-owned Swan Atlantic.

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