The US and allied forces intercepted 15 attack drones launched by Iran-backed Houthis on Saturday into the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. The Houthis claimed responsibility for the attack, marking one of their largest assaults since November.

The US and allied forces shot down 15 one-way attack drones fired by Iran-backed Houthis into the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden on Saturday, the US military said.

Shortly afterwards, the Houthis claimed the attack, saying they had fired missiles at an “American” commercial ship and launched drones at US warships in “the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.”

It was one of the Houthis’ largest attacks since they began a campaign of drone and missile strikes in November against vessels in the Red Sea area, vital for world trade, in professed solidarity with Palestinians during Israel’s war against Iran-backed Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

The US Central Command, or CENTCOM, said the “large-scale” Houthi attack occurred before dawn in the Red Sea and the adjacent Gulf of Aden.

CENTCOM and coalition forces determined that the drones “presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels, US Navy, and coalition ships in the region.”

It added, in a post on social media platform X, that “US Navy vessels and aircraft along with multiple coalition navy ships and aircraft shot down 15” of the drones.

“These actions are taken to protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure.”

Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree, also on X, said the Houthis had carried out two separate operations.

The first targeted the commercial vessel Propel Fortune in the Gulf of Aden, he said, calling it an “American” ship.

Vessel tracking websites described the bulk carrier as Singapore-flagged but did not report its current position.

A second operation fired “37 drones” at “a number of American” warships, Saree said.

The United States announced in December a maritime security initiative to protect Red Sea shipping from Houthi attacks, which have forced commercial vessels to divert from the route that normally carries 12 percent of global trade.

With AFP