US general suspects Iran role in Huthi attacks on US ships


Washington (AFP)

Iran may have played a role in recent Huthi missile attacks against US warships in the Red Sea, a top US general said Wednesday.

Iranian-backed Huthi rebels are believed to be behind a series of incidents this month that saw surface-to-surface missiles fired at the USS Mason on at least two occasions.

In response, US cruise missiles on October 13 struck Huthi radar sites believed to have been used to target the weapons.

"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 told a Washington think tank.

Votel heads the US military's Central Command, which oversees operations across the Middle East.

His statement was the most forward-leaning so far of a US official in describing Iranian involvement in the missile attacks.

The Huthi missiles either fell short of their targets or were thwarted by US anti-missile defenses.

The Pentagon has described two attacks so far on the Mason or other US warships.

Officials are still analyzing a third possible attack on Saturday to see whether additional missiles were fired.

We "are 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 told the Center for American Progress.

"And more importantly, how the decisions are being made to launch these attacks, so we can take action against that."

The Pentagon has not disclosed the type of missiles the Huthis used, but Votel noted that "some of the technology that we've seen there are things that are associated with" Iran.

But "it's not totally exclusive to them. Certainly there are others that have shore-based missiles and may be moving that in there," he added.

Yemen's conflict has killed more than 6,800 people, wounded more than 35,000 and displaced at least three million since the coalition launched military operations, according to the United Nations.

The United States has supported a Saudi-led coalition that is bombing the Huthis.