‘Not Going to Be Messed With’: US Expects Houthi Response to Airstrikes, Pentagon Says

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Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen are likely to retaliate for U.S. and U.K. airstrikes on dozens of targets used by the rebels to launch attacks on commercial shipping and U.S. military vessels, a top Pentagon military officer said Friday.

Neither the U.S. nor the Houthis yet know the extent of the damage from Thursday evening’s bombardment, Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Sims, who heads the operations directorate of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on a call with reporters.

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But, Sims said, it’s “within the DNA” of the Houthi clan to continue attacks that don’t bring them any immediate benefit despite realizing that the U.S. will not relent in efforts to secure free international waters.

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“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. “As you know, their rhetoric has been pretty strong and pretty high. I would expect that they will attempt some sort of retaliation.”

U.S. aircraft, warships, and a submarine fired over 150 kinds of munitions at dozens of targets in 28 locations, Sims said. After striking more than 60 targets, including radars, missile launch sites and storage facilities, and munitions depots at 16 locations, the U.S. conducted a second round of strikes on 12 more targets, he said.

The Houthis launched a ballistic missile at a commercial vessel Friday after the U.S.-U.K. airstrikes, Sims confirmed. The missile missed its target, but demonstrates the group’s persistence in attempting to shut down trade through a critical waterway, he said.

“We know that they have fired at least one missile in retaliation,” Sims said.

Although the Houthis claim they target only ships heading toward Israeli ports or linked to Israel in opposition to that country’s war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, a senior Biden administration official noted Thursday that Houthi targets have been indiscriminate.

Tehran has provided the Houthis with funding, training, and weapons the rebels have used to launch attacks on international maritime transit. The Houthis take direction from Iran, Sims said.

Iran should realize that continued conflict in the region “is not advantageous to them,” Sims said. “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.”

“I don’t think they would want us to strike,” he said. “If you were operating a ballistic missile launcher last night, you certainly didn’t want us to strike.”

Sims expressed optimism that the Houthis no longer have the capability to carry out complex operations, such as one Tuesday involving multiple U.S. warships downing 24 drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles in a single attack.

“I know we have degraded capability, I don’t believe that they would be able to execute the same way they did the other day, but we will see,” he said.

This report originally was published by the Daily Caller News Foundation

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