Army Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. forces in the Middle East, said Wednesday he believes Iran was somehow involved in the spate of missiles fired at Navy ships.
Missiles have been shot at the USS Mason and the USS San Antonio, two ships currently in the Red Sea. Neither has actually been hit, The Virginian-Pilot reports.
“I do think Iran is playing a role in some of this. They have a relationship with the Houthis, so I do suspect there is a role in that,” Votel said at a Center for American Progress event.
“Frankly, some of the technologies that we’ve seen there, I think are things that are associated with the Iranian threat,” he added.
The USS Gravely blocked an Iranian weapons shipment in April headed for the Houthis.
“What we are trying to do is make sure we understand this as much as we can so we can properly attribute what is happening and understand how these attacks are taking place, and more importantly how the decisions are being made to launch these attacks so we can take action against that,” Votel said.
The missiles were fired from an area in Yemen currently under control by Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran. Yemen itself is in the middle of a brutal civil war between the Houthis and Saudis, who support the government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. U.S. forces are backing the Sunni side of the conflict, essentially turning into a U.S.-Iran proxy battle.
Despite the missile firing attempts, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has pledged that Navy warships would remain off the coast of Yemen. The Pentagon also promised to find whoever fired those missiles and punish them appropriately. So far, the USS Nitze has launched five cruise missiles targeting radar sites in Yemen.
Although the missiles were fired from Houthi-controlled territory, the Pentagon has not explicitly laid the blame on the rebels.
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