DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Yemen’s Houthi rebels fired an anti-ship cruise missile toward an American destroyer in the Red Sea on Sunday, but a U.S. fighter jet shot it down in the latest attack roiling global shipping amid Israel’s war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, officials said.
The attack marks the first U.S.-acknowledged fire by the Houthis since America and allied nations began strikes Friday on the rebels following weeks of assaults on shipping in the Red Sea.
The Houthis have targeted that crucial corridor linking Asian and Mideast energy and cargo shipments to the Suez Canal onward to Europe over the Israel-Hamas war, attacks that threaten to widen that conflict into a regional conflagration.
The Houthis, a Shiite rebel group allied with Iran that seized Yemen’s capital in 2014, did not immediately acknowledge the attack.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the U.S. would retaliate for the latest attack, though President Joe Biden has said he “will not hesitate to direct further measures to protect our people and the free flow of international commerce as necessary.”
The Houthi fire on Sunday went in the direction of the USS Laboon, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer operating in the southern reaches of the Red Sea, the U.S. military’s Central Command said in a statement.
The missile came from near Hodeida, a Red Sea port city long held by the Houthis, the U.S. said.
“An anti-ship cruise missile was fired from Iranian-backed Houthi militant areas of Yemen toward USS Laboon,” Central Command said. “There were no injuries or damage reported.”
The first day of U.S.-led strikes Friday hit 28 locations and struck more than 60 targets with cruise missiles and bombs launched by fighter jets, warships and a submarine. Sites hit included weapon depots, radars and command centers, including in remote mountain areas, the U.S. has said.