Read Joe Biden’s full statement on strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen

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The United States and the United Kingdom—with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands—launched a series of air and missile strikes on Thursday at Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The strikes followed multiple missile and drone attacks by the Houthis on ships traveling on the Red Sea. On Wednesday, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby warned the militia to stop the assaults or “bear the consequences.” The Houthis instead pledged to continue attacks in what they said is a protest against Israel’s military action in Gaza.

U.S. officials who spoke to the Associated Press (AP) said the U.S. and British militaries targeted more than a dozen sites used by the Houthis with fighter jets and missiles. The officials told the AP that targets included air defense systems, logistical hubs and weapons supply sites.

Below is the full statement the White House released from President Joe Biden about the strikes.

Today, at my direction, U.S. military forces—together with the United Kingdom and with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands—successfully conducted strikes against a number of targets in Yemen used by Houthi rebels to endanger freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most vital waterways.

President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at Montgomery County Community College January 5, 2024 in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. The United States and its allies launched a strike against the Houthis in Yemen on Thursday.
Photo by Drew Angerer/GETTY IMAGES

These strikes are in direct response to unprecedented Houthi attacks against international maritime vessels in the Red Sea—including the use of anti-ship ballistic missiles for the first time in history. These attacks have endangered U.S. personnel, civilian mariners, and our partners, jeopardized trade, and threatened freedom of navigation. More than 50 nations have been affected in 27 attacks on international commercial shipping. Crews from more than 20 countries have been threatened or taken hostage in acts of piracy. More than 2,000 ships have been forced to divert thousands of miles to avoid the Red Sea—which can cause weeks of delays in product shipping times. And on January 9, Houthis launched their largest attack to date—directly targeting American ships.

The response of the international community to these reckless attacks has been united and resolute. Last month, the United States launched Operation Prosperity Guardian—a coalition of more than 20 nations committed to defending international shipping and deterring Houthi attacks in the Red Sea. We also joined more than 40 nations in condemning Houthi threats. Last week, together with 13 allies and partners, we issued an unequivocal warning that Houthi rebels would bear the consequences if their attacks did not cease. And yesterday, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution demanding the Houthis end attacks on merchant and commercial vessels.

Today’s defensive action follows this extensive diplomatic campaign and Houthi rebels’ escalating attacks against commercial vessels. These targeted strikes are a clear message that the United States and our partners will not tolerate attacks on our personnel or allow hostile actors to imperil freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most critical commercial routes. I will not hesitate to direct further measures to protect our people and the free flow of international commerce as necessary.

Newsweek reached out to the White House on Thursday night via email for further comment.