The United States and the United Kingdom are reportedly planning to conduct airstrikes against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, possibly tonight.
This comes after both countries warned there could be consequences if ships are continually targeted in the Red Sea.
On Tuesday, US and British forces intercepted 18 drones and three missiles launched by the Houthis, marking their most significant attack so far in support of Palestinians in Gaza, which is governed by Hamas.
Antony Blinken warned of ‘consequences’ if the Houthi do not stop attacking ships in the Red Sea, and called on Iran to end their support for the rebels.
Insiders within London’s Whitehall report that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is prepared to authorize military responses against the Houthis, who have frequently targeted merchant vessels in the Red Sea.
The plans were finalised today following meetings of the Prime Minister’s National Security Council and the emergency committee Cobra.
The rebels say their assaults are aimed at stopping Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip. But their targets are increasingly random, raising the risk of a US retaliatory strike on Yemen.
The US has set up a multinational naval task force to protect shipping from the attacks, which Blinken on Wednesday said were ‘aided and abetted’ by Iran.
Pentagon spokesperson Brig Gen Pat Ryder said at a news conference in Washington DC: ‘I’m not going to telegraph, forecast or speculate on any potential future operations.
‘And I think that statement from multiple nations when it comes to the fact that there will be consequences – should the attacks not stop – speaks for itself.
‘And I’ll just leave it at that.’
Asked about potential US strikes against the Houthis in Yemen, the national security spokesperson, John Kirby, said: ‘I’m not going to telegraph our punches one way or another here
“We will take necessary measures to counter and overcome the threats posed by the repeated Houthi attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea.”
On Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution urging an immediate halt to Houthi attacks.
Secretary of State Blinken visited Bahrain on Wednesday as part of his week-long tour addressing the crisis in the Middle East.