American officials say US-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles have destroyed three coastal radar sites in Houthi-controlled territory on Yemen's Red Sea coast. The strikes marked the first shots fired by the US in anger against the Houthis in Yemen's long-running civil war, the AP reports. The retaliatory action early Thursday followed two incidents this week in which missiles were fired at US Navy ships. "These limited self-defense strikes were conducted to protect our personnel, our ships, and our freedom of navigation," said Navy spokesman Peter Cook, per Reuters.
The military says that at least one cruise missile was launched at the USS Mason destroyer on Wednesday. Two missiles were fired Monday at the destroyer and at the USS Ponce amphibious staging base while the ships were in international waters. None of the missiles hit their targets. The Houthis denied attacking the US ships, though they have claimed responsibility for an Oct. 1 attack that wrecked a vessel from the United Arab Emirates. Analysts tell Reuters that the missile launches suggest the Houthis could be moving closer to Hezbollah and other Shiite militant groups, possibly as a reaction to a Saudi-led airstrike that killed 140 people at a funeral on Saturday. (Read more Yemen stories.)