– The United Arab Emirates late Monday strongly condemned an attack on a U.S. warship off the coast of Yemen earlier this week, holding the Shia Houthi militia and its allies responsible.
“We consider this attack an act of terrorism that endangers international maritime navigation,” theUAE’s Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ministry said in a statement, reported Anadolu Agency.
The attack underlined the insistence of “certain militias” on escalating the conflict in Yemen and spoiling chances for a political solution, the ministry added in reference to the Houthis.
The assertions came on the heels of a similar statement by Saudi Arabia, which likewise condemned the attack on the U.S. naval vessel and described it as the “deliberate targeting of international maritime navigation in the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait by Iran-backed militias”.
Earlier Monday, the Houthis denied that they — or their allies — had targeted any U.S. naval vessels after media reports one day earlier had suggested that Houthi militiamen had opened fire on a U.S. warship deployed in the Red Sea.
On the same day, the Yemeni government’s ambassador to Washington alleged via Twitter that the Houthis had fired two missiles at the ship from Yemeni territory.
U.S. officials, for their part, have confirmed that two missiles were fired from Yemen at a U.S. naval destroyer — the USS Mason — but that neither projectile had struck the ship.
U.S. officials did not say who they believed fired the missiles.
The incident is the first of its kind since the Yemen conflict erupted in late 2014, when the Houthis overran capital Sanaa and other parts of the country, forcing Yemen’s Saudi-backed government to temporarily flee to Riyadh.
In March of last year, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launched a massive military campaign aimed at reversing Houthi gains in Yemen and restoring the country’s embattled government.
Backed by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, pro-government forces have since managed to reclaim some of the country’s south — including Aden — but have failed to retake Sanaa and other strategic areas.