The USS Nitze, a guided missile destroyer, has fired a series of cruise missiles at the Yemeni coast today, targeting and destroying three radar stations along the Red Sea under the control of the Shi’ite Houthi movement.
The attacks come after two separate reports in recent days of missiles fired from Yemen coming close to another destroyer, the USS Mason. The ship was not hit in either case, and while the Houthis denied involvement, the Pentagon claimed “evidence” of their involvement, and claimed the Mason may have been target painted by Houthi radar.
The Navy’s statement on tonight’s cruise missile attacks insisted that the destruction of the radar sites would prevent the Houthis from being able to track or target ships off their coast. The Pentagon added that there was “little risk of civilian casualties” in the attacks.
While the Houthis have attacked warships participating in the Saudi-led naval blockade of Yemen, it is unknown why they would attack the USS Mason in the first place, with the ship apparently just passing through the area into the Red Sea. At the same time, it is unclear why the USS Mason is still hanging out off the coast of Yemen days later if it indeed was meant to be just passing by.
The Houthis have suggested the reports blaming them are an attempt to distract from a weekend incident in which a Saudi warplane attacked a funeral home in the Yemeni capital, killing 155 people. The reports indeed have been successful at that, and AP reports that the missiles fired sort of near the USS Mason were sort of similar to Iranian missiles has added another layer of intrigue to the story, rendering the Saudi war crimes all but forgotten on the front page.