Yemen’s Houthis fired Iranian missile at Norwegian-flagged ship, US wreckage analysis shows

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AFP) – Houthi rebels in Yemen The Houthis likely fired an Iranian-made anti-ship missile at a Norwegian-flagged tanker in the Red Sea in December, an attack that now provides a publicly available, evidence-based link between the rebels’ ongoing campaign against shipping and Tehran, according to the U.S. military.

A report issued by the US Defense Intelligence Agency on Wednesday stated that: Attack on StrindaThe charge is attributed to Tehran, the main backer of the Houthis in Yemen’s nearly decade-long war. The findings are consistent with those of a Norway-based group of insurance companies that also examined the debris found on the Strinda.

This comes as the Houthis continue their months-long campaign of attacks against the backdrop of the war between Israel and Hamas, targeting ships in the Red Sea corridor, disrupting the flow of goods worth $1 trillion that passes through it annually and sparking the war. The most intense fighting The US Navy has seen it since World War II.

The Iranian mission to the United Nations, in response to questions from the Associated Press, denied arming the Houthis despite the reports.

“We recognize that the Houthis have significantly developed their military capabilities based on their own resources,” the mission said, adding that “the prolonged war against them is the main factor behind the expansion of their military capabilities.”

The Strinda was coming from Malaysia and heading to the Suez Canal and then to Italy carrying a cargo of palm oil when it was struck by a missile on December 11. The attack caused a large fire on board the ship that the crew later managed to extinguish without anyone being injured.

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The US military later analyzed the debris found on the ship. The US Defense Intelligence Agency compared the missile engine parts found on the ship to those of an Iranian Noor anti-ship ballistic missile.

“The Iranian Tulo-4 turbojet engine used in the Noor missile has unique characteristics — including the compressor stage and stator — that are consistent with engine debris recovered from the Houthi attack on the MT Strinda,” the DIA report said. The stator is the stationary part of the engine.

The US Defense Intelligence Agency said the parts matched photos of a Tulo-4 engine that Iran displayed at the 2017 International Aviation and Space Exhibition in Russia. Visually, the engines bore similarities to the photos.

The Noor missile was designed by Iran from the Chinese C-802 anti-ship missile, which Iran purchased from Beijing and began testing in 1996 before transfers were halted due to a US pressure campaign. The Iranian version is believed to have a range of 170 kilometres (105 miles), with an upgraded version called the Qader having a range of 300 kilometres (185 miles). The Houthis have a similar missile to the Qader called the Mandab 2 with a similar range.

The Norwegian Shipowners’ Mutual War Risk Insurance Association, known as DNK, also examined the wreckage following the Strinda attack. The association assessed that it was “highly likely” that the ship was hit by a C-802 or Noor anti-ship cruise missile.

Before the Houthis stormed the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, in 2014, the country had no C-802 arsenal. When the Saudi-led coalition entered the conflict in Yemen on behalf of its exiled government in 2015, the Houthi arsenal came under increasing attack. Newer missiles quickly found their way into the rebels’ hands—despite the fact that Yemen has no indigenous missile-making infrastructure.

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Iran has long denied arming the Houthis, likely due to a U.N. arms embargo on the rebels that has been in place for years. However, the United States and its allies have seized Houthi weapons. Multiple arms shipments were en route to rebels in Middle Eastern waters.Weapons experts have also linked weapons captured by the Houthis on the battlefield to Iran.

While the United States has previously accused Iran of supplying the Houthis with missiles used in their attacks at sea, Wednesday’s report provided photographic evidence for the first time. It cited a seizure stemming from a Jan. 11 night raid on an Iranian dhow traveling near the coast of Somalia, which witnessed the killing of two US Navy personnelThe report said the Navy seized parts related to the Noor anti-ship missile.

The Houthis have been launching naval attacks since 2016, when they hit the Emirati ship Swift-1 with a missile as it headed to the port of Hodeidah. It sailed back and forth in the Red Sea between a UAE military base in Eritrea and Yemen.They also attempted to attack the USS Mason, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, at about the same time.

But Houthi attacks have escalated rapidly since November over the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The rebels have targeted more than 70 ships with missiles and drones in a campaign that has killed four sailors. One ship was captured. And Two drowned In the time since then.

The Houthis insist their attacks target ships linked to Israel, the United States or Britain as part of the rebels’ support for the militant group Hamas in its war against Israel. However, many of the ships attacked have little or no connection to the war — including some bound for Iran, which supports the Houthis.

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The US Defense Intelligence Agency report stated that “the Houthis may have used weapons provided to them by Iran to launch more than 100 attacks against land targets in Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, and dozens of attacks targeting ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.”

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Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.

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