U.S. fighter aircraft took down an anti-ship cruise missile the Houthi rebels in Yemen fired toward a U.S. Navy destroyer on Sunday, the military said.

The interception took place near the coast of al-Hudaydah, Yemen’s main port city, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement. Early reports said the aircraft that destroyed the cruise missile were land-based and did not operate from the Navy aircraft carrier on patrol in the region as part of a U.S.-led coalition to defend freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, The War Zone reported, citing a U.S. official.

“On Jan. 14 at approximately 4:45 p.m. (Sanaa time), an anti-ship cruise missile was fired from Iranian-backed Houthi militant areas of Yemen toward USS Laboon (DDG 58), which was operating in the Southern Red Sea,” the CENTCOM statement read. “The missile was shot down in vicinity of the coast of Hudaydah by U.S. fighter aircraft.”

No injuries or damage were immediately reported during the operation, according to CENTCOM.

The U.S. military did not say how many aircraft were involved, their specifications or where they were based. The Pentagon and CENTCOM did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

Iran-backed Houthis vowed to retaliate against the U.S. for strikes on targets and locations enabling the rebel group to conduct more than two dozen attacks on international shipping since Nov. 19, The Associated Press reported.

“On top of the 100 days of Israeli aggression against Gaza, we affirm that the hostile measures by America against Yemen will not prevent the armed forces from continuing to implement their religious, humanitarian and moral commitment in support of the Palestinian people and their valiant resistance by continuing to target ships belonging to the enemy entity and heading to the ports of occupied Palestine until the aggression stops and the siege on Gaza,” Houthi spokesperson Mohammed Abdullsalam said in a social media statement, according to USNI News.

Abdulsalam also complained about “enemy” aircraft observed flying near Yemeni airspace and coastal lands, according to Reuters. It is unclear if he was referring to the incident of the U.S. aircraft downing the anti-ship cruise missile.

It would be the first interception from a land-based missile since the beginning of Houthi aggression in the Red Sea, according to The War Zone.

The USS Laboon has shot down several drones and missiles fired from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.

The U.S. and United Kingdom, with help from four more nations, bombarded more than 60 munitions depots, radars and launch sites on Thursday for weapons the Houthis have used to target international shipping in the Red Sea, with munitions fired from aircraft, warships and submarines. The U.S. conducted additional strikes on radar facility targets in Yemen on Friday evening after the rebels fired at another commercial vessel earlier that day, marking the 28th attack on international shipping.

Micaela Burrow on January 15, 2024

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