The seal for the U.S. Central Command.

The seal for the U.S. Central Command. (AP)

Houthi rebels fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles without effect Tuesday at commercial ships in the southern Red Sea, according to the U.S. Central Command.

The Iranian-backed Houthis, fighting to overturn the Yemen government backed by Saudi Arabia, fired their latest missile salvo at 9:30 p.m. from Yemeni territory they control, according to a post on X, formerly Twitter, by Central Command.

“Multiple commercial ships in the area reported the impact of the [anti-ship ballistic missiles] into the surrounding water though none have reported any damage,” the post said. “These illegal actions endangered the lives of dozens of innocent mariners and continue to disrupt the free flow of international commerce.”

The attack is the first reported since Iran on Monday sent the destroyer Alborz into the Red Sea, a move considered a challenge to a U.S.-led operation to protect commercial shipping there from continuing attacks.

Shipping firms are refusing to transit the Suez Canal into the Red Sea due to the risk involved, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday. The most recent, Danish shipping giant Maersk, suspended its cargo traffic in the area that day.

A Houthi missile on Saturday reportedly struck the Maersk Hangzhou, after which the destroyer USS Graveley shot down two more missiles fired from Houthi-controlled areas. The next day, the Hangzhou was attacked by four small boats crewed by Houthis, according to CENTCOM.

U.S. helicopters from the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Graveley fired on the boats, sinking three and killing their crews, the command said.

The Houthis began attacking commercial vessels in November to show solidarity with Hamas, the militant group that killed approximately 1,200 people and captured scores of others in a surprise attack inside Israel on Oct. 7. Subsequently, Israel has mounted a military campaign against Hamas in Gaza, the Palestinian territory governed by the group, that has so far killed about 21,000 people.

Tuesday’s incident is the 24th attack against merchant shipping in the Red Sea since Nov. 19, CENTCOM said.

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