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US, allies warn Huthis of ‘consequences’ if ship attacks continue

Twelve nations led by the United States on Wednesday jointly warned Yemen’s Huthi rebels of unspecified consequences unless they halt their attacks on shipping vessels in the Red Sea. The statement released by the White House comes after several reports that President Joe Biden’s administration is considering direct strikes on the rebels if the attacks continue. “Let our message now be clear: we call for the immediate end of these illegal attacks and release of unlawfully detained vessels and crews,” said the statement. “The Huthis will bear the responsibility of the consequences should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy and free flow of commerce in the region’s critical waterways.” Signatories of the statement included the UK, which on Monday issued its own warning to the Huthis of “direct action,” as well as Australia, Canada, Germany and Japan. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Wednesday on X (formerly Twitter) that they were “united” in their stance. “The Houthis must end their deadly and destabilising attacks on vessels in the Red Sea,” he wrote, using an alternate spelling for the Iran-backed rebels. “The UK will always take action to defend freedom of navigation.” The only regional country to sign was Bahrain, the tiny Gulf state that has particularly tense relations with Iran, which supports the Huthis. The Huthis say they are acting in solidarity with Palestinians in the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza by targeting ships with links to Israel. The United States has sent an aircraft carrier, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, to the area and earlier announced a coalition of countries to protect movement in the Red Sea, through which 12 percent of global trade passes. Meanwhile the UK has sent a Royal Navy destroyer, HMS Diamond, to join the maritime protection force and other British military vessels already in the Gulf as part of its longstanding maritime presence there.

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