Iran-backed Houthi rebels deny involvement in attack on US destroyer that prompted reprisal strikes against the Yeman coast
The US has insisted it wants no direct military involvement in the bruising war in Yemen a day after launching its first strikes on territory controlled by the Houthi rebel movement.
As the Iran-backed Houthi rebels denied firing missiles at an American destroyer in international waters, the Pentagon said it did not know who launched the attack on the USS Mason an act which prompted another destroyer, the USS Nitze, to launch Tomahawk missiles at three radar sites on Yemens Red Sea coast.
We dont seek a wider role in this conflict, said Peter Cook, the Pentagon press secretary on Thursday.
Cook said the strikes were a limited reprisal to defend the Mason and the principle of freedom of navigation in the Bab al-Mandeb waterway, not connected to the broader conflict in Yemen.
But Cook also suggested the US might not have launched its last strike against Houthi-controlled terrain.
Should we see a repeat, we will be prepared to take appropriate action again, he said.
The Houthis have denied any role in the strikes on the USS Mason. Contradicting the US, the Houthis told the Saba news agency that the missiles did not originate from its territory and offered to aid in an investigation of the incidents.
The US, along with the UK, are the main backers of Saudi Arabia, which has led a coalition to reinstate the exiled president, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and counter the advances of Iran-backed Houthi fighters, who control the capital, Sanaa, and large swaths of territory.
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