UK government under pressure to repatriate child and mother from Syria

DUBAI: The US Navy said on Wednesday it was setting up a new multinational task force that would target arms smuggling in waters around Yemen, the latest US military response to Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia and the Emirates United Arabs.

The effort follows a series of Houthi missile and drone attacks this year on the two Gulf countries.

Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of the US Fifth Fleet, said the task force would, starting Sunday, operate in the Red Sea, Bab Al-Mandab and the Gulf of Aden and would also target human trafficking. humans and the trafficking of drugs and other illicit goods.

“These are strategically important waters that deserve our attention,” Cooper said on a call with reporters.

The task force is said to consist of two to eight ships and is part of the 34-nation Combined Maritime Forces, which Cooper also commands, which has three other task forces in nearby waters targeting smuggling and piracy.

Asked about the missiles and drones used by the Houthis to attack their American partners, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Cooper said the new task force would impact the Houthis’ ability to obtain such weapons.

“We’ll be able to do that in a more dynamic and direct way than we do today,” Cooper added.

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the waters between Somalia, Djibouti and Yemen were well-known “smuggling routes” for weapons destined for the Houthis.

“The new international task force will certainly tackle this issue,” the official said.

Iran has long been accused of smuggling weapons to the Houthis, a charge it denies.

The United States has provided Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates with additional military aid this year following Houthi attacks on Gulf countries.

The launch of the task force comes amid a two-month truce in Yemen’s nearly seven-year war that has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions more.

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