JERUSALEM — Iran issued a warning Sunday to the U.S. over potentially targeting two cargo ships in the Mideast long suspected of serving as forward operating bases for Iranian commandos. The warning came just after the U.S. and the United Kingdom launched a massive airstrike campaign against Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
The statement from Iran on the Behshad and Saviz ships appeared to signal Tehran’s growing unease over U.S. strikes in recent days in Iraq, Syria and Yemen targeting militias backed by the Islamic Republic.
Those strikes were in retaliation for the killing of three U.S. soldiers and wounding of dozens of others in Jordan, attacks that stem back to Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which has escalated tensions across the wider Middle East and raised fears about a regional conflict breaking out.
The U.S. strikes overnight Sunday struck across six provinces of Yemen held by the Houthi rebels, including in Sanaa, the capital. The Houthis gave no assessment of the damage but the U.S. described hitting underground missile arsenals, launch sites and helicopters used by the rebels.
“These attacks will not discourage Yemeni forces and the nation from maintaining their support for Palestinians in the face of the Zionist occupation and crimes,” Houthi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree said. “The aggressors’ airstrikes will not go unanswered.”
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned the Houthis after the strikes that “they will continue to bear further consequences if they do not end their illegal attacks on international shipping and naval vessels.” That message was echoed by British Foreign Secretary David Cameron, who said: “The Houthi attacks must stop.”