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Houthi missile strike Iran-bound cargo ship in Red Sea but crew escape injury

Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree said rebels fired two missiles at an Iran-bound Greek bulk grain carrier in the Red Sea, "in vindication of the oppressed Palestinian people, in support and solidarity with our brothers in the Gaza Strip." Photo by Yahya Arhab/EPA-EFE

Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree said rebels fired two missiles at an Iran-bound Greek bulk grain carrier in the Red Sea, “in vindication of the oppressed Palestinian people, in support and solidarity with our brothers in the Gaza Strip.” Photo by Yahya Arhab/EPA-EFE

Feb. 13 (UPI) — Iranian-backed Houthi rebels fired two missiles at an Iran-bound Greek bulk grain carrier in the Red Sea, slightly damaging the vessel but causing no injuries, the U.S. military said Tuesday.

The militants launched the attack from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen targeting the Greek-owned, Marshall Islands-flagged Star Iris as it was steaming through the 20-mile-wide Bab al-Mandeb Strait early Monday, U.S. Central Command said in a post on X.

“The ship reports being seaworthy with minor damage and no injuries to the crew. Of note, the MV Star Iris’s destination is Bandar Iman Khomeini, Iran,” said CENTCOM.

The maritime traffic tracking website Vessel Finder confirms the 40,000-ton vessel, which left the Brazilian port of Vila do Conde with a shipment of corn on Jan. 13, is bound for the Iranian port on the northern shores of the Persian Gulf.

The Houthis confirmed attacking the Star Iris with “accurate and direct” strikes from naval missiles, claiming the vessel had links to the United States.

Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree said the operation was “in vindication of the oppressed Palestinian people, in support and solidarity with our brothers in the Gaza Strip.”

Monday’s missile attack came four days after the latest U.S. “self-defense” strikes on Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen targeting seven drone boats and seven mobile anti-ship cruise missiles.

CENTCOM said afterward that the targets presented an “imminent threat” to U.S. Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region.

In the past three months, the Houthis have targeted at least 23 ships in or near the Red Sea that the group alleges were linked to Israel, the United States or Britain, saying that the action is in protest at the civilian toll from Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza.

The group has repeatedly stated that it will continue targeting not only Israeli ships, but those bound for Israeli ports, until the siege on Gaza is lifted and the “aggression against the Palestinian people” ceases.

Last week it widened its mandate to include military operations against American and British targets in the Arabian and Red Seas in defense of Yemen and its people against “U.S. and British aggression.”

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