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Home World News Washington Post World News Yemeni rebels criticize new US-led task force in Red Sea

Yemeni rebels criticize new US-led task force in Red Sea

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CAIRO – Yemeni Houthis have criticized a new US-led task force that will patrol the Red Sea after a series of attacks by the Iranian-backed rebels in a waterway vital to global trade.

Mohammed Abdul-Salam, the Houthis’ chief negotiator and spokesman, said late Friday that US action in the Red Sea, which comes amid a ceasefire in the country’s civil war, contradicts claims of Washington that it supports the UN-brokered ceasefire.

The task force “confirms Yemen’s aggression and blockade,” he claimed on his Telegram social media account.

Abdul-Salam was apparently referring to a coalition led by Saudi Arabia that the rebels have been fighting for years. The coalition, until recently supported by the US, imposes an air and naval blockade on Houthi-occupied territories.

Iran is the main supporter of the Houthis who took over Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, in September 2014. The Saudi-led coalition entered the war in March 2015 on the side of Yemen’s exiled government. the brink of famine.

Another Houthi leader, Daifallah al-Shami, also criticized the US-led task force, saying it is sending negative signals and “painting a darker picture of the ceasefire,” according to the rebel media agency. He didn’t expand it either.

The new task force of two to eight ships patrolling at the same time will be commissioned on Sunday and will aim to combat the smuggling of coal, drugs, weapons and people into the Red Sea, said Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, who oversees the Red Sea. Middle East of the US Navy. based 5th Fleet.

The USS Mount Whitney, a Blue Ridge-class amphibious command ship formerly part of the Navy’s African and European 6th Fleet, will join the task force, Cooper said.

Although Cooper did not name the Houthis when he announced the task force on Wednesday, the rebels have launched explosives-laden drone boats and mines into the waters of the Red Sea.

The Red Sea runs from Egypt’s Suez Canal in the north down through the narrow Bab el-Mandeb Strait in the south that separates Africa from the Arabian Peninsula.

Coal smuggling through the Red Sea has been used by Somalia’s al-Qaida-affiliated militant group al-Shabab to fund attacks. Weapons linked to Iran by the US navy and analysts have also been intercepted in the region, likely en route to the Houthis. The rebels also fired missiles into the Red Sea that have come close to a US warship in the past.

A 60-day ceasefire around the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan appears to be holding up for now, despite repeated violations that both sides blamed each other on.

The UN-brokered ceasefire, which began on April 2, is the first nationwide ceasefire in six years. It has liberated Yemenis in Sanaa and other rebel-held areas from coalition airstrikes during the ceasefire and people in government-occupied areas from Houthi attacks, especially those on the outskirts of the central city of Marib, which the rebels have attempted to capture . more than a year.



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