Iranian and Hezbollah commanders help direct Houthi attacks in Yemen, sources say

Published January 20, 2024
  • Iran supplied drones and precision-strike missiles – sources
  • Iran provides know-how, data, intelligence in Red Sea – sources
  • Houthis trained on advanced weapons in Iran last month – source
  • Attacks show Iran’s ability to threaten naval security

DUBAI, Jan 20 (Reuters) – Commanders from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and Lebanon’s Hezbollah group are on the ground in Yemen helping to direct and oversee Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping, four regional and two Iranian sources told Reuters.

Iran – which has armed, trained and funded the Houthis – stepped up its weapons supplies to the militia in the wake of the war in Gaza, which erupted after Iranian-backed militants Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, the four regional sources said.

Tehran has provided advanced drones, anti-ship cruise missiles, precision-strike ballistic missiles and medium-range missiles to the Houthis, who started targeting commercial vessels in November in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, the sources said.

IRGC commanders and advisers are also providing know-how, data and intelligence support to determine which of the dozens of vessels travelling through the Red Sea each day are destined for Israel and constitute Houthi targets, all the sources said.

Washington said last month that Iran was deeply involved in planning operations against shipping in the Red Sea and that its intelligence was critical to enable the Houthis to target ships.

In response to a request for comment for this story, the White House pointed to its previous public comments about how Iran has been supporting the Houthis.

In his weekly news conferences, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani has repeatedly denied Tehran is involved in the Red Sea attacks by the Houthis. The IRGC public relations office did not respond to request for comment.

Houthi spokesperson Mohammed Abdulsalam denied any Iranian or Hezbollah involvement in helping to direct the Red Sea attacks. A Hezbollah spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

The Houthis, who emerged in the 1980s as an armed group in opposition to Saudi Arabia’s Sunni religious influence in Yemen, say they are supporting Hamas by striking commercial ships they say are either linked to Israel or are heading to Israeli ports.

Their attacks have affected global shipping between Asia and Europe through the Bab al-Mandab strait off Yemen. That has triggered U.S. and British air strikes on Houthi targets in the country, opening a new theatre of conflict linked to the war in Gaza.

The Gaza conflict has also sparked clashes between Israel and Hezbollah militants along the Lebanese border, as well as attacks by Iran-linked groups on U.S. targets in Iraq and Syria.



RELATED: Biden Makes an Admission About the Airstrikes in Yemen

Published January 19, 2024

President Biden admitted Thursday that U.S. airstrikes in Yemen are not deterring the Houthi rebels’ attacks in the Red Sea.

The commander in chief’s comments came the same day the Houthis launched a missile strike against a U.S. owned vessel, though no injuries or damage were reported. That attack followed the U.S.’s fifth round of strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen.

“These strikes, along with other actions we have taken, will degrade the Houthis’ capabilities to continue their reckless attacks on international and commercial shipping in the Red Sea, the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Aden,” U.S. Central Command said Thursday.

So far, however, Biden acknowledged that hasn’t happened.

“Well, when you say working are they stopping the Houthis? No,” he said. “Are they gonna continue? Yes.”



RELATED: Kirby Can’t Answer Why Houthis Aren’t Afraid Of Joe Biden

Published January 19, 2024

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby could not answer why the Houthi rebels are not afraid of President Joe Biden.

Daily Caller White House correspondent Reagan Reese posed the question at Friday’s briefing, after Biden said Thursday that the airstrikes against the Iranian-backed rebels have proven to be ineffective thus far. The president said the U.S. will continue launching airstrikes despite it being ineffective.

“John, President Biden admitted yesterday that the retaliatory strikes against the Houthis aren’t working,” Reese began. “Why aren’t they afraid of the U.S.?”

“Well, you have to ask the Houthis what’s in their mindset. I’m not gonna get in between the ears of Houthi leaders,” Kirby said. “They claim it’s about Gaza, it’s not. They claim that it’s some sort of U.S. and Britain effort to wage war on them. It’s not. We’re simply trying to do two things. We’re trying to defend our Navy ships and sailors and the Navy ships and sailors of other nations that are in the Red Sea with us, and two, protecting our national shipping.”

“This is about self-defense and, again, this conflict — well, first of all, we don’t seek a conflict, there doesn’t need to be a conflict. But the exchange of fire that we have seen in recent days doesn’t have to go on one day longer if the Houthis would make the right decision to stop these attacks,” Kirby continued.





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