Yemen’s Houthis launched attacks on three ships in the Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Arabian Sea, the Iran-aligned group said on Friday, although the manager of the ship allegedly attacked in the Mediterranean said there was no sign of such an incident.

The reported attacks are the latest in a months-long campaign of Houthi strikes against regional shipping in what the group says is solidarity with Palestinians fighting Israel in the Gaza war.

The Houthis’ military spokesman Yahya Sarea said in a televised speech that Houthi forces had targeted the Yannis ship in the Red Sea, the Essex in the Mediterranean Sea and MSC Alexandra in the Arabian Sea.

Houthis “fired several missiles at the ship Essex in the Mediterranean Sea while it was violating the decision ban that prevents entry into occupied Palestinian ports”, Sarea added.

He did not clarify when the attacks took place.

The U.S. Central Command said on Friday that the Houthis had launched two anti-ship ballistic missiles into the Red Sea on May 23, but no injuries or damage were reported.

The Liberia-flagged Essex LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) tanker was anchored off the coast of Egypt’s Alexandria port in the Mediterranean on Friday, shipping data showed.

The vessel is managed by Zodiac Maritime, which is controlled by Israeli magnate Eyal Ofer.

A Zodiac Maritime spokesperson said: “The vessel is safely at anchor in Egyptian waters and there has been no sign of anything unusual.”

In an apparent reference to the Essex, British maritime security company Ambrey said in a note that the vessel had traded between Alexandria and Port Said, also in Egypt, and had not called at any Israeli port in recent weeks.

“The tanker was not further offshore Egypt than 15NM (nautical miles) over the prior week. The Houthi language indicated they did not hit the vessel,” Ambrey said.

“While a variety of security sources have assessed that Houthi missiles and drones have adequate range to reach the EMED (eastern Med) from Yemen, they have also assessed that coalition and local military forces possess adequate air defence systems to counter this proposed activity,” top global ship registry the Marshall Islands said in a security advisory last week.

Earlier this month, the leader of Yemen’s Houthis, Abdul Malik al-Houthi had said that all ships heading to Israeli ports would be attacked by the Iran-backed group, not just those in the Red Sea region which it has sought to strike before.

The Iran-aligned Houthi militants have launched repeated drone and missile strikes on ships in the crucial shipping channels of the Red Sea, the Bab al-Mandab strait and the Gulf of Aden since November to show their support for the Palestinians in the Gaza war.

This has forced shippers to re-route cargo to longer and more expensive journeys around southern Africa and has stoked fears that the Israel-Hamas war could spread and destabilise the Middle East.

Source: Hellenic Shipping News