White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said Thursday the United States is not in “an armed conflict” with the group that continues to launch missile attacks at U.S. troops in the middle east.
The USS Mason shot down a drone Wednesday in the Red Sea that was launched by the Iran-backed Houthis after the group launched four drone and missile attacks on three U.S. ships, according to Politico. Even after a Sunday attack caused a U.S. Navy warship to be pulled into a battle for several hours, Kirby said the country is not in “an armed conflict” during a Thursday press briefing. (RELATED: ‘Shadow War’: The Biden Admin Isn’t Doing Enough To Thwart Iran-Backed Houthi Attacks, GOP Senator Says)
“Is the U.S. in any sort of conflict with the Houthis?” Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich asked Thursdsay.
“We are not in an armed conflict with the Houthis, per se,” Kirby responded. “That said, as I said at the top, we’re going to do what we have to do to protect ourselves, our partners and merchant shipping. We’ve done it in the past and we’ll do it again in the future.”
“That sounds a little bit like a conflict,” Heinrich pushed back on Kirby.
“We are protecting and defending freedom of navigation,” Kirby said. “We are protecting and defending our ability to operate in the region, in the Red Sea and surrounding waters. And as I said at the top, we are looking to flesh out an already pretty robust combined maritime force to protect freedom of navigation in the area, and we got a couple of, a few several other countries that are willing to participate so we look forward to that.
The Biden administration decided Wednesday not to launch strikes at Houthis even though U.S. warships previously shot down Houthi attack drones flying toward the vessels. Meanwhile, some U.S. military officers think the U.S. should be giving a stronger response to the Houthi’s attacks, three U.S. officials told Politico. The Biden administration has yet to confirm whether the Houthis were intentionally attacking U.S. vessels.
While the administration works to determine if the Houthis’ attacks are intentional, some current and former officials argue the attacks are putting U.S. troops in danger, Politico reported.
“What we don’t want to see is the conflict in Israel widen to a regional war. As of today, it has not,” Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said Monday.