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Iranian role suspected in Houthi attacks on US ships

US cruise missiles responded by striking Houthi radar sites [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 October, 2016

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A top US general has accused Iran of involvement in a recent series of attempted Houthi attacks against US warships off the coast of Yemen.

Iran may have played a role in recent Houthi missile attacks against US warships in the Red Sea, a top US general said on Wednesday.

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels are believed to be behind a series of incidents this month that saw surface-to-surface missiles fired at the USS Mason on at least two occasions.

The Houthi missiles either fell short of their targets or were thwarted by US anti-missile defences.

On 13 October, US cruise missiles responded by striking Houthi radar sites believed to have been used to target the weapons.

"I do think Iran is playing a role in some of this. They have a relationship with the Houtis, so I do suspect there is a role in there," General Joseph Vote, who heads the US military's Central Command, told a Washington think tank.

We "are trying to ... understand this as much as we can, so we can properly attribute what is happening, and understand how these attacks are taking place," Votel told the Center for American Progress.

"And more importantly, how the decisions are being made to launch these attacks, so we can take action against that."

The Pentagon has not disclosed the type of missiles the Houthis used, but Votel noted that "some of the technology that we've seen there are things that are associated with" Iran. 

But "it's not totally exclusive to them. Certainly there are others that have shore-based missiles and may be moving that in there," he added.

The missile strikes are the most serious escalation yet of US involvement in a deadly civil war that has killed more than 10,000 people, wounded more than 35,000 and displaced at least three million since a Saudi-led coalition launched military operations last year.

Officials have stressed that Washington wants to avoid getting embroiled in yet another war in an already volatile region where America is to varying degrees waging wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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