Brit warship HMS Diamond & US vessels shoot down 18 drones & three missiles in Red Sea blitz by Iran-backed rebels

Brit warship HMS Diamond & US vessels shoot down 18 drones & three missiles in Red Sea blitz by Iran-backed rebels

BRITISH and US warships shot down a barrage of 18 drones and three missiles fired towards the Red Sea by Iranian-backed rebels.

Royal Navy destroyer HMS Diamond and American warships launched a coordinated blitz after the Houthis’ biggest attack so far on one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes on Tuesday night.

PAHMS Diamond responded to the ‘complex attack’ on international shipping lanes in the Red Sea[/caption]

The US Central Command said the “complex attack” included bomb-carrying drones, anti-ship cruise missiles and one anti-ship ballistic missile.

It said 18 drones, two cruise missiles and the anti-ship missile were downed by F-18s from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, American Arleigh Burke-class destroyers the USS Gravely, the USS Laboon and the USS Mason, as well as the UK’s HMS Diamond.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said it was the biggest attack from the Iranian-backed Houthis in the Red Sea to date.

He said: “Deploying Sea Viper missiles and guns, Diamond destroyed multiple attack drones heading for her and commercial shipping in the area.

“The UK alongside allies have previously made clear that these illegal attacks are completely unacceptable and if continued the Houthis will bear the consequences.”

He confirmed there were no injuries or damage to Diamond and her crew.

The assault happened off the Yemen cities of Hodeida and Mokha, private intelligence firm Ambrey said.

Ambrey said ships near Hodeida radioed to report a barrage of missiles and drones – with US-allied warships in the area urging vessels to proceed at full throttle.

Off Mokha, ships saw missiles and drones and small vessels trailing them.

“Vessels are advised to transit with caution and report any suspicious activity,” the UKTMO said.

The US said it was the 26th Houthi attack on the commercial shipping lanes in the Red Sea since November 19.

It comes as Britain deploys HMS Richmond to the area as the ongoing Houthi rebel attacks threaten to ignite an all-out war.

The move is set to bolster the Royal Navy’s presence in the region as the Iran-backed militia refuse to stand down.

The Type 23 frigate set sail from Plymouth on Friday armed with 32 Sea Captor missiles and a Wildcat helicopter.

HMS Richmond will join the destroyer HMS Diamond, frigate HMS Lancaster, a squadron of three mine hunting vessels HMS Bangor, HMS Chiddingfold and HMS Middleton and the support ship RFA Cardigan Bay.

Earlier this month, 14 countries issued a joint statement condemning the Houthis for “threatening lives and the global economy”.

“The Houthis will bear the responsibility for the consequences should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy, or the free flow of commerce in the region’s critical waterways,” it said.

The attack came ahead of a UN Security Council vote on Wednesday to demand an immediate halt to the attacks by the rebels – who say their assaults are aimed at stopping Israel’s war in Gaza.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Shapps called the situation “extremely serious”.

“The United Kingdom and our international partners condemn the illegal and unjustified attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea by Houthi militants,” he said.

“These attacks, which increased 500 per cent from November to December, risk innocent lives, exacerbate the humanitarian suffering in Yemen, threaten regional security and harm the global economy.

“Our message is clear, we call for the Iranian-backed Houthi to immediately cease these illegal attacks.”

He warned: “The Houthis will bear the responsibility of the consequences should they continue to threaten lives and commercial shipping in these critical waterways.”

It follows weeks of drone and missile attacks by the Houthis that has put £1trillion worth of global trade at risk and sent shipping prices soaring by 170 per cent.

The militia group, which controls large swaths of Yemen, claim to be targeting vessels with links to Israel in retaliation for their devastating offensive inside Gaza.

But there have been frequent attacks on commercial vessels with little or no link to Israel – forcing global sea traffic to halt operations in the region and sail around Africa.

The UK is part of a US-led task force, Operation Prosperity Guardian, deployed to keep the peace in the Red Sea in a show of force to the Iranian terror proxy.

Sources said eight of the 20 ships attacked in the 30 days before Christmas were either UK-registered, had Brits in their crew or carried goods for the UK.

On New Year’s Eve, the first deadly clash between the US and the Houthis took place as US Navy choppers sank three militia boats.

The helicopters came to the rescue of a Maersk container vessel being fired upon by the rebels, sinking three Houthi ships and killing all onboard.

It marked the biggest confrontation between the US and the Houthis since the Israel-Hamas war broke out and tensions have continued to spiral into the New Year with fresh attacks.

The following day, Iran sent a destroyer bristling with missiles and guns into the centre of the chaos after the Houthis vowed the US would “bear the consequences” of their attack.

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