A U.S.-led coalition of 13 countries issued a warning to Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen on Wednesday, vowing consequences should the group continue attacks in the Red Sea.
The U.S. was joined by the U.K., Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore and New Zealand in Wednesday’s statement. The nations said that the destabilization of trade throughout the Red Sea is ‘unacceptable’ and vowed consequences.
‘Ongoing Houthi attacks in the Red Sea are illegal, unacceptable, and profoundly destabilizing. There is no lawful justification for intentionally targeting civilian shipping and naval vessels. Attacks on vessels, including commercial vessels, using unmanned aerial vehicles, small boats, and missiles, including the first use of anti-ship ballistic missiles against such vessels, are a direct threat to the freedom of navigation that serves as the bedrock of global trade in one of the world’s most critical waterways,’ the nations wrote.
‘Let our message now be clear: we call for the immediate end of these illegal attacks and release of unlawfully detained vessels and crews. The Houthis will bear the responsibility of the consequences should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy, and free flow of commerce in the region’s critical waterways. We remain committed to the international rules-based order and are determined to hold malign actors accountable for unlawful seizures and attacks,’ the statement continued.
There have been roughly two dozen attacks on international shipping by the Houthis since Oct. 19. The Houthis say their attacks are aimed at Israel-linked ships to stop the Israeli offensive in Gaza.
The Houthis have launched missiles at numerous ships in recent weeks and struck a Maersk container vessel on Saturday.
Last month, the U.S. announced the formation of Operation Prosperity Guardian, an international initiative to protect commercial ships traveling through the Red Sea. Since then, approximately 1,200 merchant ships have traveled through the region, and none had been hit by drone or missile strikes until Saturday.
Currently, there are five warships from the U.S., France and the U.K. patrolling the waters of the southern Red Sea and the western Gulf of Aden. The ships have so far shot down a total of 17 drones and four anti-ship ballistic missiles.
Fox News’ Bradford Betz contributed to this report.