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Yemen's Houthis say Hodeidah hit by airstrikes, threaten strait closure

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-02-24 05:15

Protesters, including Houthi supporters, rally in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Sanaa, Yemen February 23, 2024. [REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah]

SANAA - Yemen's Houthi group threatened on Friday to close a vital shipping lane in the Red Sea, after the US-British maritime coalition said it bombed the port city of Hodeidah where the rebels have a military base.

Houthi-run al-Masirah TV reported three airstrikes targeting the Ras Issa area, northwest of the city, near a military sea base. Residents reported hearing large explosions. No casualties were confirmed.

Without specifically confirming the airstrikes, the US Central Command said on platform X that its navy shot down on Friday three drones "near several commercial ships operating in the Red Sea."

Adding to the volatility, Hussein al-Ezzy, the Houthi-appointed "deputy foreign minister," said on platform X that the group is considering "a total closure of the Bab al-Mandab Strait in the next days" to pressure Israel to end its conflict with Gaza.

However, analysts doubted the Houthis have the capability to enforce such a blockade, which would disrupt global trade and oil supplies as the strait is a crucial chokepoint for maritime traffic between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

The Houthis have stepped up their attacks on international shipping since mid-November last year, saying they were in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza who faced intense Israeli attacks.

The US-British forces have responded with dozens of airstrikes on Houthi targets, including mobile missile launchers and underwater drones, but have failed to deter the group from launching more attacks.

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