US, French military shoot down Houthi drones after attack on carrier, warships

United States (US) and French military forces downed dozens of drones in the Red Sea on Saturday after Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis targeted bulk carrier Propel Fortune and US destroyers in the Gulf of Aden.

The Houthis have been attacking ships in the Red Sea since November in what they say is a campaign of solidarity with Palestinians during the war in Gaza.

The group’s military spokesman Yahya Sarea said in a televised speech on Saturday they targeted the cargo vessel and “a number of US war destroyers at the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden with 37 drones”.

US Navy ships and aircraft shot down 15 uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) by the Houthis in the Red Sea area, US Central Command (CENTCOM) said earlier on Saturday.

The military was responding to a large-scale attack the group launched into the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden between 4 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. (1300-1530 GMT), CENTCOM said in a post on social media platform X.

 The UAVs were determined to present “an imminent threat to merchant vessels, US Navy, and coalition ships in the region”, it said.

A French warship and fighter jets also shot down four combat drones that were advancing towards naval vessels belonging to the European Aspides mission in the region, a French army statement said.

 “This defensive action directly contributed to the protection of the cargo ship True Confidence, under the Barbados flag, which was struck on March 6 and is being towed, as well as other commercial vessels transiting in the area,” it said.

 France has a warship in the area, but also warplanes at its bases in Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) also confirmed that there was an attempted attack on the Singapore-flagged Propel Fortune.

It said the shipping company reported two explosions in close vicinity of the bulk carrier, but all crew on board were safe and the vessel was proceeding to its next port of call.

“Based on sources, Propel Fortune, was likely targeted due to outdated US ownership data,” UKMTO said in a statement.

Sarea said the Houthis would continue their attacks “until the aggression stops and the siege on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip is lifted”.