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Iranian flag near oil refinery

A gas flare on an oil production platform is seen alongside an Iranian flag in the Gulf July 25, 2005. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/File Photo

White House Accuses Iran of Helping Houthi Target Ships

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December 22, 2023

by Steve Holland (Reuters) – Iran was “deeply involved” in planning operations against commercial vessels in the Red Sea and its intelligence was critical to enable Yemen’s Houthi movement to target ships, the White House said on Friday.

Iran-backed Houthis, who say their attacks are in support of Palestinians under siege by Israel in Gaza, have targeted commercial shipping in the Red Sea with drones and missiles, forcing shippers to change course and take longer routes around the southern tip of Africa

“We know that Iran was deeply involved in planning the operations against commercial vessels in the Red Sea. This is consistent with Iran’s long-term materiel support and encouragement of the Houthis’ destabilizing actions in the region,” White House national security spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement.

“This is an international challenge that demands collective action,” Watson said. 

Iran denies involvement in attacks by the Houthis in the Red Sea.

The U.S. last week announced a naval coalition involving 20 countries aimed at helping safeguard vessels from attacks in the Red Sea. Some of the countries involved have said operations to protect commercial traffic will be as part of existing naval agreements. 

(Reporting by Steve Holland, Kanishka Singh and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Leslie Adler and Rami Ayyub)

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