US commander suspects Iran role in Houthi attacks on US ships

General Joseph Votel, head of the US military’s Central Command, said he believes Iran is behind the recent incidents in which Houthi rebels fired missiles at US ships off the coast of Yemen.

Iran appears to be behind the recent missile attacks by Houthi rebels on US Navy ships off the coast of Yemen, a top US general said Wednesday.

“I do think Iran is playing a role in some of this. They have a relationship with the Houtis, so I do suspect there is a role in there,” General Joseph Votel, who heads the US military’s Central Command which oversees operations across the Middle East, told the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank.

AFP quotes Votel as saying that the US Navy is “trying to … understand this as much as we can, so we can properly attribute what is happening, and understand how these attacks are taking place,” Votel said. “And more importantly, how the decisions are being made to launch these attacks, so we can take action against that.”

Houthi rebels, Shiites backed by Iran, over the past weeks have fired missiles at US Navy warships patrolling the Red Sea on at least three occasions. The missiles fell short of their targets, causing no damage to the warships.

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The US responded by bombing Houthi sites, the first US offensive in the Yemeni civil war.

Votel noted that the missiles fired at the ships and “some of the technology that we’ve seen there are things that are associated with” Iran, but is “not totally exclusive to them. Certainly there are others that have shore-based missiles and may be moving that in there,” he added.

This could be the latest incident in a growing list of Iranian provocations against US forces, mostly maritime, in the region.

The number of acts of belligerence by Iranian forces against US troops stationed in the area has more than doubled since the signing of the controversial nuclear deal a year ago.

Votel has previously sharply criticized Iran for its provocations, saying they are worrying because they risk setting off a full-blown conflict.

“What we see with the Iranians is not particularly responsible,” Votel stated in August. “It is provocative, in some cases; it’s unsafe. And it can lead to situations where we may not be able to de-escalate in a time before something happens.”

By: World Israel News Staff