Houthi militants are continuing attacks in the Red Sea in spite of a joint U.S.-U.K. strike on a dozen targets in Yemen on Thursday, a senior Pentagon official told reporters on Friday.
A ballistic anti-ship missile landed in the water on Friday morning, said Lt. Gen. Douglas Sims II, director of the Joint Staff.
“I would expect that they will attempt some sort of retaliation,” he said. “Quite honestly, I would hope they wouldn’t.”
Allied strikes in Yemen hit more than 60 targets in more than a dozen locations, the White House confirmed Thursday night, meant to degrade the group’s ability to continue its attacks on shipping lanes in the Red Sea.
Sims called out Iran for its backing of the Houthis, saying that the country’s leadership has some power to tell the group to stand down and prevent any further U.S.-led strikes.
“So the hope would be that any real thought of retaliation is based on a clear understanding that, you know, we simply are not going to be messed with here,” Sims said.
The Navy on Friday sent a message warning U.S. shipping companies to stay out of the region in the wake of the strikes, the Associated Press reported.
“My guess is that the Houthis are trying to figure things out on the ground, and trying to determine what capabilities still exist for them,” Sims said.
Among the targets were air surveillance and radar systems, as well has launch sites for the missiles and drones used in 27 attacks on or near commercial ships as of Thursday.
A battle damage assessment, totaling destroyed equipment and casualties, is still being compiled, Sims said.
A Houthi spokesman announced Thursday that the strikes had killed five and injured another six.
“The number of casualties we don’t expect would be very high,” Sims said. “In fact, the majority of the locations that we hit were in areas that were not built up at all ― so think ballistic missile launchers that were in mountain areas or you know, very lowly populated areas.”
Though the U.S. expects Houthis to retaliate for the strikes, Sims said, officials don’t believe they will be able to replicate the complex attack carried out Tuesday, which included 18 drones, two cruise missiles and one ballistic missiles.
“I know we have degraded capability,” Sims said. “I don’t believe that they would be able to execute the same way they did the other day. But we will see.”
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.
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