Rishi Sunak: Strikes on Houthis intended as ‘limited, single action’

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Rishi Sunak says that UK strikes on Houthi military targets in Yemen were “in self-defence”

By Becky Morton
Political reporter

Joint US-UK strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen were intended as a “limited, single action”, Rishi Sunak has said.

Following reports of more attacks by the rebel group on ships in the Red Sea on Monday, the prime minister refused to speculate whether he would take further military action in response.

But he said the UK “will not hesitate to protect our security, our people and our interests where required”.

Labour said it backed the “targeted action”.

However, leader Sir Keir Starmer told the Commons military action must be “underpinned by a clear strategy”.

He added that the strikes still carried risks and “we must avoid escalation across the Middle East”.

The Houthis – a military and political group who control the north of Yemen and its capital Sanaa – have been attacking cargo ships in the Red Sea since November.

Last Thursday, the US and UK carried out air strikes on military Houthi targets in response.

Giving a Commons statement, Mr Sunak told MPs the government’s “initial assessment” was that all 13 planned targets were destroyed, while there was no evidence of civilian casualties so far.

He said the “proportionate” action was taken “in self-defence” and was “limited, not escalatory”.

His statement came shortly after American officials said the Houthis had hit a US-owned ship off the coast of Yemen with a missile.

Earlier, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations security agency also reported that missile fire had struck a ship near Yemen’s southern port city of Aden.

Asked whether he would take more military action if necessary, Mr Sunak said: “I won’t speculate on future action.

“This was intended as a limited, single action and we hope the Houthi’s will now step back and end their destabilising attacks.

“But of course… we will not hesitate to protect our security, our people and our interests where required.”

The Houthis – who are allies of Iran – have said they are attacking ships affiliated with Israel in protest at the war in Gaza.

However, commercial vessels with no connection to the country also appear to have been targeted.

Mr Sunak said the UK-US strikes were “completely unrelated” to the Israel-Gaza conflict and were “a direct response to the Houthis’ attacks on international shipping”.

He added that the group were targeting ships from around the world and “we shouldn’t fall for their malign narrative”.

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