US to reclassify Huthis as terrorist group: media

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The United States will once again consider Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels a terrorist group, U.S. media reported Tuesday, after previously dropping the classification in 2021.

The designation, expected Wednesday, of the Huthis as a “specially designated global terrorist” entity comes amid attacks by the group on shipping and military vessels in the Red Sea.

On Tuesday, the U.S. military said it struck Yemen to destroy four anti-ship missiles “prepared to launch from Huthi-controlled areas,” and which “presented an imminent threat to both merchant and U.S. Navy ships in the region.”

It is at least the third time in less than a week that the United States has carried out strikes against the Huthis, who have repeatedly taken aim at merchant vessels in the vital Red Sea shipping lane — attacks the rebels say are in support of Palestinians in Gaza, where Israel is battling militant group Hamas.

The U.S. military also said that the Huthis launched an anti-ship ballistic missile into international shipping lanes on Tuesday, and that a Maltese-flagged bulk carrier reported that it was hit but remained seaworthy.

The United States and Britain targeted nearly 30 sites in Yemen with more than 150 munitions last week, while American forces later attacked a Huthi radar site in what was described as “a follow-on action” related to the previous strikes.

The United States set up a multinational naval task force last month to protect Red Sea shipping from the Huthis, who are endangering a transit route that carries up to 12 percent of global trade.

The Huthis say they have been targeting Israeli-linked vessels, but Washington says dozens of countries have connections to ships that have been attacked.

Washington had previously designated the Huthis as a terrorist group in January 2021, in the waning days of the Donald Trump administration — a move that was reversed the following month by U.S. President Joe Biden.

The original designation caused outcry from those who said it would complicate the humanitarian response in the country, battered by civil war and much of which is controlled by the Huthis.

 

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