U.S. military launches cruise missile strikes to knock out three coastal radar sites in areas of Yemen controlled by Houthi forces. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) The U.S. military launched cruise missile strikes on Thursday (October 13) to knock out three coastal radar sites in areas of Yemen controlled by Iran-aligned Houthi forces, retaliating after failed missile attacks this week on a U.S. Navy destroyer, U.S. officials said. The strikes, authorized by President Barack Obama, represent Washington's first direct military action against suspected Houthi-controlled targets in Yemen's conflict. Still, the Pentagon appeared to stress the limited nature of the strikes, which were aimed at radar that enabled the launch of at least three missiles against the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Mason since Sunday. U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said U.S. Navy destroyer USS Nitze launched the Tomahawk cruise missiles around 4 a.m. local (0100 GMT). The official identified the areas in Yemen where the radar were located as: near Ras Isa, north of Mukha and near Khoka. The failed missile attacks on the USS Mason - the latest of which took place on Wednesday - appeared to be part of the reaction to a suspected Saudi-led strike on mourners gathered in Yemen's Houthi-held capital Sanaa. The Houthis, who are battling the internationally-recognized government of Yemen President Abd Rabbu Mansour al-Hadi, denied any involvement in Sunday's attempt to strike the USS Mason. But U.S. officials have told Reuters there were growing indications that Houthis fighters, or forces aligned with them, were responsible for Sunday's attempted strikes, in which two coastal cruise missiles designed to target ships failed to reach the destroyer. The missile incidents, along with an Oct. 1 strike on a vessel from the United Arab Emirates, add to questions about safety of passage for military ships around the Bab al-Mandab Strait, one of the world's busiest shipping routes. The Houthis, who are allied to Hadi's predecessor Ali Abdullah Saleh, have the support of many army units and control most of the north, including the capital, Sanaa. The Pentagon warned against any future attacks. Although Thursday's strikes against the radar aim to undercut the ability to track and target U.S. ships, the Houthis are still believed to possess missiles that could pose a threat. Reuters has reported that the coastal defense cruise missiles themselves used against the USS Mason had considerable range, fuelling concern about the kind of weaponry the Houthis appear willing to employ and some of which, U.S. officials believe, is supplied by Iran. One of the missiles fired on Sunday, for example, traveled more than two dozen nautical miles before splashing into the Red Sea off Yemen's southern coast, one U.S. official said.