WASHINGTON – A U.S. Naval destroyer off the coast of Yemen early Thursday fired cruise missiles on radar sites, in a response to previous strikes on another American warship, the Pentagon said.
The strikes, conducted by the USS Nitze about 4 a.m. Thursday local time, were carried out in “self defense,” officials told the US media.
On Wednesday and Sunday, missiles were fired at the USS Mason from Houthi rebel-controlled territory in Yemen. All of the attempted strikes missed and happened when the Mason was in international waters.
The Pentagon said the strikes were approved by President Barack Obama at the recommendation of Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph Dunford, the UPI reported.
“These limited self-defense strikes were conducted to protect our personnel, our ships and our freedom of navigation in this important maritime passageway,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said. “The United States will respond to any further threat to our ships and commercial traffic.”
The U.S. strikes targeted three radar sites “involved in the recent missile launches threatening USS Mason and other vessels operating in international waters in the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandeb,” a heavily traveled waterway between Yemen and Africa.
“Initial assessments show the sites were destroyed,” the Pentagon said.
On the other hand, pro-Houthi Saba news agency reported the rebel group had “nothing to do” with the missile strikes and the “allegations are unfounded.”