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US, UK stage multiple airstrikes against Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen

The U.S. and U.K. on Monday staged airstrikes against eight locations in Yemen aimed at stopping Iran-backed Houthi militants from attacking ships in the Red Sea.

The White House has insisted the retaliatory airstrikes -- eight rounds so far -- have been effective despite repeated Houthi attacks.

U.S. Central Command said Monday airstrikes took place at 11:59pm Sanaa time and targeted "missile systems and launchers, air defense systems, radars, and deeply buried weapons storage facilities" and that they were separate from the multinational Operation Prosperity Guardian to protect ships in the Red Sea.

The strike on the underground storage facility marked the first time the U.S. had struck such a facility that they said housed more advanced conventional weaponry than was struck in the initial strike on Jan. 11 said senior U.S. military officials in a briefing with reporters.

PHOTO: Houthi fighters march during a rally of support for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and against the U.S. strikes on Yemen outside Sanaa on Jan. 22, 2024.  (AP)
PHOTO: Houthi fighters march during a rally of support for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and against the U.S. strikes on Yemen outside Sanaa on Jan. 22, 2024. (AP)

MORE: US strikes Houthis in Yemen again after Biden vowed to continue attacks

The selection of Monday's targets was characterized by the officials as "very specific" and "very deliberate" and said they stored missiles and drones.

As was the case in the Jan. 11 airstrike a senior U.S. military official said the airstrike involved a mix of American and British fighter aircraft along with ship-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles, the American fighter jets had taken off from the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower that is currently deployed to the Red Sea.

"At this point, we do assess that the strike was successful and achieved the desired effect,” said a senior U.S. defense official who said the strikes would help remove "significant” portions of the Houthi’s ability to continue attacking commercial shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. . However, the officials acknowledged that while Monday's strikes had an impact on the Houthis military capabilities it does not mean that they are incapable of striking again.

The airstrikes were first announced in a joint statement released by the nations involved in Monday's airstrikes.

"Today, the militaries of the United States and United Kingdom, at the direction of their respective governments with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands, conducted an additional round of proportionate and necessary strikes against 8 Houthi targets in Yemen in response to the Houthis' continued attacks against international and commercial shipping as well as naval vessels transiting the Red Sea," said the joint statement.

The joint statement made clear that the countries involved in Monday's strikes remain focused on de-escalating tensions and restoring stability to the region, but warned that "we will not hesitate to defend lives and the free flow of commerce in one of the world's most critical waterways."

Monday's joint airstrike with the United Kingdom was similar to the first night of airstrikes on Jan. 11 that targeted 28 Houthi locations associated with the Houthi attacks on commercial shipping lanes in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

Since then the U.S. had carried out five smaller scale airstrikes targeting Houthi missile sites that were being prepared for imminent launches to target commercial vessels or U.S. Navy ships.

PHOTO: This photograph provided by the Indian Navy shows U.S.-owned ship Genco Picardy that came under attack Wednesday from a bomb-carrying drone launched by Yemen's Houthi rebels in the Gulf of Aden, Jan.18, 2024. (Indian Navy via AP)
PHOTO: This photograph provided by the Indian Navy shows U.S.-owned ship Genco Picardy that came under attack Wednesday from a bomb-carrying drone launched by Yemen's Houthi rebels in the Gulf of Aden, Jan.18, 2024. (Indian Navy via AP)

MORE: White House defends retaliation against Houthis: 'Deterrence is not a light switch'

But the Houthis have not been deterred from continuing to launch missiles and drones at commercial ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden which have now risen to more than 30 attacks since mid-November.

Last week Houthi attacks struck two U.S.-owned vessels causing minor damage to the ships, but no injuries.

PHOTO: This photograph provided by the Indian Navy shows U.S.-owned ship Genco Picardy that came under attack Wednesday from a bomb-carrying drone launched by Yemen's Houthi rebels in the Gulf of Aden, Jan.18, 2024. (Indian Navy via AP)
PHOTO: This photograph provided by the Indian Navy shows U.S.-owned ship Genco Picardy that came under attack Wednesday from a bomb-carrying drone launched by Yemen's Houthi rebels in the Gulf of Aden, Jan.18, 2024. (Indian Navy via AP)

Earlier on Monday, President Joe Biden spoke by phone with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to discuss the Houthi threat to commercial shipping in the region.

"They reiterated their commitment to freedom of navigation, international commerce, and defending mariners from illegal and unjustifiable attacks," said a White House readout of their call.

Their conversation also touched on "the importance of increasing humanitarian aid and civilian protections for people in Gaza, and securing the release of hostages held by Hamas. The President and Prime Minister also reiterated their support for Ukraine as it defends itself against Russia’s continuing aggression."

US, UK stage multiple airstrikes against Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen originally appeared on abcnews.go.com