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Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh came under fire Thursday over the idea that the U.S.-led coalition’s strikes against the Houthis in Yemen were deterring the militant group from carrying out its attacks on ships in the Red Sea. .

During a press conference Thursday morning, reporters asked whether the Pentagon believed the Houthis had escalated attacks in recent days.

Houthi protest march in Yemen

Newly recruited Houthi fighters attend a protest march against the US-led attacks on Yemen and the Israeli war in the Gaza Strip, Wednesday, February 21, in Sana’a, Yemen. (AP/Osamah Abdulrahman)

Singh admitted that there has been an increase in attacks in the last two or three days, but noted that many of them have been to the detriment of the Houthis.

As U.S.-led efforts to deter further attacks on ships in the Red Sea have apparently failed, one journalist asked if there was any effort to step up efforts or change tactics.


“I think what we are seeing in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden is a coalition of like-minded countries coming together, including most recently the EU announcing its own coalition. And that is working together with Operation Guardian to defend innocent sailors transiting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, and allow freedom of navigation and uphold the rule of law,” Singh said.

The White House announced Operation Prosperity Guardian in December as a U.S.-led coalition effort to take decisive action against Iran-backed Houthi rebels attacking commercial ships. The Houthis have said the attacks are to show solidarity with Palestinian civilians killed in Israel’s current offensive in the Gaza Strip, although many of their targets have had nothing to do with Israel or the United States.

Houthi supporters

Houthi supporters attend a rally against the US-led airstrikes in Yemen and in support of Palestinians in Yemen’s Gaza Strip, in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, February 9, 2024. (AP Photo/Osamah Abdulrahman, File)

The attacks have led to major shipping vessels avoiding the Red Sea entirely, adding delays and exorbitant fees. In January, the United States and the United Kingdom began attacking Houthi targets. Even so, the Houthis have continued to attack commercial ships.

Another journalist questioned what the Pentagon was willing to do given that the Houthis are “basically preparing to dig in for the long term.” Singh said that despite the ongoing attacks, the Houthis appear to be following the same playbook.

He took issue with another journalist’s insistence that “ships continue to be attacked,” noting that service members patrol the Red Sea every day alongside coalition partners and allies.

“Do some of the missiles make it through from time to time? Yes, we have seen that happen. But most of the time, our engagements have been successful,” Singh said.


The press release came hours after Houthi rebels launched attacks on Israel and a ship sailing in the Gulf of Aden, setting the ship on fire.

By Sam