US and British strikes in Yemen targeted the Iran-backed Huthi rebels’ radar, missile and drone capabilities in a bid to reduce their ability to attack international shipping, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday. “Today’s strikes targeted sites associated with the Huthis’ unmanned aerial vehicle, ballistic and cruise missile, and coastal radar and air surveillance capabilities,” Austin said in a statement, noting that Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands provided support. “This action is intended to disrupt and degrade the Huthis’ capabilities to endanger mariners and threaten global trade in one of world’s most critical waterways,” he said. “Today’s coalition action sends a clear message to the Huthis that they will bear further costs if they do not end their illegal attacks,” Austin added. The Huthis have carried out a growing number of drone and missile strikes on the key international route through the Red Sea since the Gaza war erupted with Hamas’s unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7. The rebels — who say they are acting in response to Israel’s operations in Gaza — have controlled a major part of Yemen since civil war erupted there in 2014, and are part of the Iran-backed so-called “axis of resistance” arrayed against Israel.