The Iran-backed Houthi terrorists of Yemen claimed on Monday to have targeted and damaged an “American ship” in the Red Sea with an “accurate and direct” missile strike.
The target, a cargo ship named MV Star Iris, is actually Marshall Islands-flagged and Greek-owned. The incident appears to be the first time the Houthis have attacked a ship bound for Iran.
“The naval forces of the Yemeni Armed Forces targeted the American ship Star Iris in the Red Sea with a number of suitable naval missiles, and the strikes were accurate and direct,” the Houthis said in a statement on Monday.
Houthi spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree discussed the attack in a televised speech from the occupied Yemeni capital of Sanaa, which the Houthi insurgents captured in 2014.
Saree said the missile strike was conducted “in vindication of the oppressed Palestinian people, in support and solidarity with our brothers in the Gaza Strip.” He also described the attack as an act of “retaliation to the American-British aggression on our country.”
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Saree said attacks on civilian ships in the Red Sea would continue until Israel halts its operation against the Hamas terrorists in Gaza.
The United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations (UKMTO) said the Star Iris was indeed struck by two missiles, but only minor damage was inflicted and the crew was safe. The vessel proceeded to its next port of call after the attack.
British maritime security company Ambrey also said the ship was targeted by two different missile strikes and suffered some damage to its starboard side.
A U.S. defense official said on Monday the Star Iris was targeted by the Houthis, but none of the missiles launched by the terrorists actually struck the ship.
The attack on the Star Iris was the first in six days. The cargo vessel was carrying a shipment of corn from Brazil, which is Iran’s main supplier of corn, to the port city of Bandar Imam Khomeini. Iran is under sanctions from the U.S. but they do not apply to food shipments.
Things are heating up in the Red Sea. https://t.co/Q5XDuU2o2L
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“The Star Iris, like every Iran-bound bulker, had not diverted away from the Red Sea, perhaps unafraid of attacks from Iran-backed Houthis who could be considered ‘friendly’ given the vessel’s destination,” speculated commodities analyst Ishan Bhanu.
The owner of the ship is Star Bulk Carriers, a company headquartered in Athens and listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange in the United States.