Middle East crisis: UK strikes on Yemen were ‘necessary in self-defense’, Rishi Sunak says

British and US forces have launched an attack on Houthi targets in Yemen after the Iranian-backed group defied a warning to stop targeting ships in the Red Sea.

Yemen press agency, SABA, reported attacks took place in the capital, Sana’a, and the governorates of Sa’dah, Hodeidah, Taiz, and Dhamar.

US officials said the strikes had been carried out by warship-launched Tomahawk missiles, as well as fighter jets and a submarine.

In a statement issued shortly after the attacks, US President Joe Biden said: “These targeted strikes are a clear message that the United States and our partners will not tolerate attacks on our personnel or allow hostile actors to imperil freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most critical commercial routes.”

Mr Biden said the military action was also supported by Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also said Houthi attacks could not be allowed to stand.

He said: “The United Kingdom will always stand up for freedom of navigation and the free flow of trade. We have therefore taken limited, necessary and proportionate action in self-defense.”

Nasr Aldeen Amer, vice president of the Houthi media authority in Sana’a, hit out at what he called “a brutal aggression against our country” by America.

“They will pay absolutely and without hesitation, and we will not back down from our position in supporting the Palestinian people, whatever the cost,” he said.

Houthi official Abdulsalam Jahaf also wrote on social media that “America, Britain and Israel are launching raids”.

“We will discipline them God willing,” he added.

A joint statement by 10 governments issued through the White House said they would “not hesitate to defend lives and protect the free flow of commerce in one of the world’s most critical waterways”.

Denmark, Germany, New Zealand and South Korea added their names to the six nations that took part in the joint strikes.

The statement said: “The Houthis’ more than two dozen attacks on commercial vessels since mid-November constitute an international challenge.

“Today’s action demonstrated a shared commitment to freedom of navigation, international commerce, and defending the lives of mariners from illegal and unjustifiable attacks.”