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Italy to send frigate to Red Sea after Huthi attacks

Italy is sending a frigate to the Red Sea as part of international efforts to help safeguard ships against Huthi missile and drone attacks, the defence ministry said Tuesday. The Virgilio Fasan will head towards the region in the “next few hours”, it said in a statement. The United States on Monday announced a 10-nation coalition to quell the attacks, which have imperilled a transit route that carries up to 12 percent of global trade. “Italy will do its part, together with the international community, to counter the destabilising terrorist activity of the Huthis… and to protect trade and guarantee freedom of navigation and international law,” Italian Defence Minister Guido Crosetto said. His comments, published in the same statement, followed a videocall with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin earlier Tuesday. A defence source did not rule out that Italy could send a second ship to the Red Sea, where Iran-backed Huthi rebels have escalated attacks on tankers, cargo ships and other vessels. The Virgilio Fasan is set from February to be the lead ship in the European Union’s Atalanta anti-piracy mission in East Africa.

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