In a significant development on December 26, the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) reported the successful interception of twelve attack drones and five missiles believed to have been launched by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the Southern Red Sea. The incident occurred over a 10-hour period and involved assets such as the USS Laboon (DDG 58) and F/A-18 Super Hornets from the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group.
According to CENTCOM, the USS Laboon, a guided-missile destroyer, and the F-18 fighter jets were deployed as part of a U.S.-led coalition aimed at safeguarding shipping lanes from Houthi attacks in the strategically crucial Bab el-Mandeb strait. Fortunately, no damage to ships or injuries were reported during the operation.
The interception came in response to a series of one-way attack drones, anti-ship ballistic missiles, and land attack cruise missiles launched by the Houthi rebels. The U.S. forces successfully neutralized the threats, showcasing the effectiveness of their defensive capabilities in the region.
The announcement from the U.S. followed a statement from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) regarding the interception of a “hostile aerial target” heading towards Israel. The IDF, monitoring the situation through its air traffic control, labeled the attacks as “acts of terror” directed by Iran. Rear Adm Daniel Hagari, IDF Spokesman, explicitly stated, “This is an act that is carried out under Iranian directives.”
The IDF released footage of the interception off Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula coast, where witnesses reported seeing debris falling into the Gulf of Aqaba near Dahab. Egyptian media reported that explosions were heard around two kilometers from Dahab, with Al Qahera News television suggesting that the blasts occurred near the Egyptian seaside town. Fortunately, no casualties or damage were reported.
The Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for firing drones at the Israeli city of Eilat in solidarity with Gaza. This follows a pattern of Houthi attacks on Israel, with most attempts intercepted before causing any harm. The rebels have consistently expressed solidarity with Gaza, reporting over 20,900 casualties in the ongoing conflict.
The regional dynamics have further escalated tensions, with the U.S. and Israel attributing the attacks to Iranian influence. The interception of Iranian-backed Houthi drones and missiles underscores the volatile situation in the region and the complex web of alliances and hostilities.
As the situation continues to unfold, the international community will closely monitor developments in the Southern Red Sea and the broader Middle East, seeking to understand the implications of these intercepted attacks on regional stability.
In the midst of a complex geopolitical landscape, the interception of Houthi drones serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by nations in securing vital maritime routes and defending against unconventional threats emanating from various actors in the region.