Tens of thousands of Yemenis gathered in several cities on Friday to hear their leaders condemn U.S. and British strikes on their country in response to attacks by Houthi militants on Red Sea shipping.
The U.S. and Britain carried out dozens of air strikes on Houthi military targets overnight, widening a wave of regional conflict unleashed by Israel’s war in Gaza.
“Your strikes on Yemen are terrorism,” said Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi, a member of the Houthi Supreme Political Council, referring to the United States. “The United States is the Devil.”
After Gaza’s Hamas rulers attacked Israel on Oct. 7, triggering Israel’s assault on Gaza, the Iran-aligned Houthis began attacking shipping lanes and firing drones and missiles towards Israel, saying they would not stop until Israel’s offensive stopped.
The Houthis, who rule much of Yemen, said they would target all ships heading to Israel, more than 1,000 miles away, and warned international shipping companies against using Israeli ports.
The Houthis are one of several groups in the Iran-aligned “Axis of Resistance” that have been taking aim at Israeli and U.S. targets since their Palestinian ally Hamas killed more than 1,200 people in Israel on Oct. 7. The groups hold the U.S., Israel’s closest ally, partly responsible for the crisis and the scope of Israel’s massive response.
“We did not attack the shores of America, nor did we move in the American islands, nor did we attack them. Your strikes on our country are terrorism,” said Al-Houthi.
The Iraqi militia group Harakat al-Nujaba, also aligned with Iran, said that American interests and countries allied to the U.S. would not be safe from now on. In Sanaa, protesters stamped on Israeli and American flags.
U.S. and allied forces have been attacked at least 130 times in Iraq and Syria Since Oct. 17, according to Washington.
The United States has no plans to deploy more forces to the region, Pentagon spokesman Patrick Ryder said.
The US launched a fresh strike against a Houthi target in Yemen targeting a radar site.
Tomahawk missiles were launched from a warship, the US military said.
The military described the attack as a “follow-on action” from Friday’s wider US-UK strikes, which had targeted nearly 30 locations.
Earlier, President Biden warned the US would respond if the Yemeni rebels continued “outrageous behaviour” in attacking Red Sea shipping.
The Iran-backed Houthis have said attacks in Yemen will not go without “punishment or retaliation”, vowing to continue attacking ships in the Red Sea.