Explosions were reported in several cities across the war-ravaged country, including the capital Sanaa, the western port city of Hodeidah, the Houthi stronghold of Saada and the south-western city of Dhamar.
In a statement early on Friday, US President Joe Biden said the strikes were in response to the Houthis endangering “freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most vital waterways”, and were carried out with the UK and with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada and The Netherlands.
“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,” Biden added.
The US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, has also stressed the strikes on Yemen send a “clear message to the Houthis” that the group’s attacks in the Red Sea won’t be tolerated.
“This action is intended to disrupt and degrade the Houthis’ capabilities to endanger mariners and threaten global trade in one of the world’s most critical waterways,” he announced in a statement.
The US military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) has also announced Yemen’s Houthi fighters “will be held accountable” for their “illegal and dangerous actions” against Red Sea shipping.
CENTCOM said that US and UK forces, with support from Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and Bahrain, “conducted joint strikes on Houthi targets to degrade their capability”.
Radar systems, air defence facilities, weapons storage and launch sites for drones and missiles were attacked, CENTCOM added.
“We hold the Houthi militants and their destabilizing Iranian sponsors responsible for the illegal, indiscriminate, and reckless attacks on international shipping that have impacted 55 nations so far, including endangering the lives of hundreds of mariners, including the United States,” CENTCOM Commander General Michael Erik Kurilla stated.
The US military has been leading a maritime coalition of 12 countries to counter Houthi attacks on international shipping vessels in the Red Sea, which the group stresses have been carried out in protest of Israel’s war on Gaza. There have been 27 reported such attacks since October 17, according to CENTCOM.
US Air Force Central Commander Lt. Gen. Alex Grynkewich said in a news release US and coalition forces hit more than 60 targets at 16 Houthi locations in Yemen Thursday evening.
More than 100 precision-guided munitions were used in the strikes on command and control nodes, munitions depots, launching systems, production facilities and air defense radar systems, he stated.
“We remain committed to our critical partners throughout the Middle East to defend against Iranian-backed Militia Groups, including Houthi militants, and the threat they pose to regional security and stability,” Grynkewich added.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also confirmed that the Royal Air Force, alongside US forces, and with “non-operational support” from the Netherlands, Canada and Bahrain, carried out the attacks on Houthi fighters in Yemen.
The UK Defense Secretary, Grant Shapps, has also stated that four Royal Air Force Typhoon jets conducted “precision strikes” on Houthi military targets in Yemen.
He wrote on X that “this action was not only necessary, it was our duty to protect vessels [and] freedom of navigation” in light of the great threat to “innocent lives and global trade” that Houthi attacks in the Red Sea presented.
The Houthis warned of severe retaliation against the US and UK for bombing targets in Yemen.
Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, a senior Houthi official, has warned the US and UK that they will “regret” attacking Yemen, which he described as “the greatest folly in their history”.
In posts on social media, al-Bukhaiti said London and Washington had made “a mistake” in launching a war on Yemen.
The world, he stated, was now witnessing a “unique war” in which those supporting “right and those who are wrong” can be clearly identified.
“The goal of one of its parties is to stop the crimes of genocide in Gaza, represented by Yemen, while the goal of the other party is to support and protect its perpetrators, represented by America and Britain.”
“Every individual in this world is faced with two choices that have no third: Either to stand with the victims of genocide or to stand with its perpetrators,” he added.
Houthi leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi has earlier stated that any United States aggression against Yemen “will not go unanswered”, amid fears that the group’s attacks could esclate Israel’s war on Gaza into a wider regional conflict.
Al-Houthi said in a speech on Thursday that the response from the group will be “much greater” than this week’s barrage of drones and missiles on the Red Sea.
“The answer will not only be attacking the Americans in the sea with more than 24 drones and missiles — the response will be much more,” al-Houthi added.
The leader said that Yemen is ready “to confront American aggression” and criticized US and United Kingdom support for Israel, stating it “will not deter” Yemen’s actions.
He added the strategy in preventing Israeli-linked ships from traversing the Red Sea has been effective, citing the recent American attack on the Houthis’ navy as evidence of this impact.
Furthermore, al-Houthi accused the US and the UK of trying to involve other countries in the confrontation against Yemen, warning that those who target Yemen and its naval forces risk their maritime safety and commercial shipping interests.
“Those who want to get involved and attack our people and target the naval forces are risking their maritime safety and their commercial ships.”
It comes a day after eleven members of the United Nations Security Council voted in favour of a measure calling on the Houthis to “immediately cease all attacks” in the Red Sea, “which impede global commerce and navigational rights and freedoms as well as regional peace”.
Houthi fighters in Yemen have for months launched drones and missiles at shipping in the Red Sea which is said to be connected to Tel Aviv, in a show of support for Palestinians amid Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip.
The Red Sea is one of the world’s most important shipping lanes, linking European and Asian markets through the Suez Canal.
Around 12 percent of global trade passes through the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, near to where the Houthis are targeting shipping.