According to the Pentagon, an American destroyer and several commercial ships were attacked in the Red Sea on Sunday, perhaps signaling a dramatic escalation in a series of maritime strikes in the Middle East connected to the Israel-Hamas conflict.
“We’re aware of reports regarding attacks on the USS Carney and commercial vessels in the Red Sea and will provide information as it becomes available,” the Pentagon stated in a statement.
The Carney is a destroyer of the Arleigh Burke class.
The British military previously stated that there had been a suspected drone strike and explosions in the Red Sea, but did not elaborate.
The Pentagon did not specify where it believes the fire originated. However, Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels have launched a series of attacks on ships in the Red Sea, as well as drones and missiles aimed toward Israel as it fights Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
According to a US official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence concerns, the strike began at 10 a.m. in Sanaa, Yemen, and might have lasted up to five hours.
The Houthis made no immediate response. However, a Houthi military official had stated that a “important” announcement will be issued shortly.
Global commerce has becoming more targeted as the Israel-Hamas crisis threatens to escalate into a larger regional conflict — even as violence has ceased and Hamas exchanges hostages for Palestinian inmates held by Israel.
Earlier in November, the Houthis captured a vehicle transport ship in the Red Sea off Yemen that was also related to Israel. The warship is still being held by the rebels near the port city of Hodeida. Missiles also fell near another US warship last week after it aided an Israeli-linked vessel that had been briefly hijacked by attackers.
The Houthis, on the other hand, have not directly attacked Americans in some time, upping the stakes in the escalating maritime confrontation. To respond for missiles fired at US Navy ships at the time, notably the USS Mason, the US deployed Tomahawk cruise missiles that destroyed three coastal radar installations in Houthi-controlled territory in 2016.