January 11, 2024 Israel-Hamas war

By Kathleen Magramo, Antoinette Radford, Christian Edwards, Jessie Gretener, Aditi Sangal, Elise Hammond and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, January 12, 2024
57 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
11:46 p.m. ET, January 11, 2024

Strikes hit more than 60 Houthi targets, US Air Force says

From CNN's Haley Britzky

US and coalition forces hit more than 60 targets at 16 Houthi militant locations in Yemen Thursday evening, US Air Force Central Commander Lt. Gen. Alex Grynkewich said in a news release.

More than 100 precision-guided munitions were used in the strikes on command and control nodes, munitions depots, launching systems, production facilities and air defense radar systems, he said. 

"We remain committed to our critical partners throughout the Middle East to defend against Iranian-backed Militia Groups, including Houthi militants, and the threat they pose to regional security and stability," Grynkewich said in the release.

Houthi officials said earlier that the strikes hit several locations in Yemen, including airports.

11:27 p.m. ET, January 11, 2024

Russia calls emergency meeting of UN Security Council after US strikes on Houthis

From CNN's Mariya Knight

Russia has called an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council following joint US and UK strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen, Russian officials said Thursday.

The meeting will take place on Friday morning, state-run news agency media TASS reported, citing Moscow's mission to UN.

The joint strikes came after the Security Council approved a resolution on Wednesday demanding the Houthis stop their "brazen" attacks in the commercially vital Red Sea.

Russia and China were among four abstentions in that vote.

The joint strikes mark a significant response by the US and its partners after it warned the Iran-backed militant group it would bear the consequences of repeated attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea, which the Houthis say are revenge against Israel for its military campaign in Gaza.

In a statement, US Central Command chief Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla said the Houthis' "illegal and dangerous actions will not be tolerated, and they will be held accountable."

11:30 p.m. ET, January 11, 2024

The Middle East is on edge after US and UK strikes on Yemen's Houthis. Here's what we know

From CNN staff

The US and UK militaries launched strikes against multiple Houthi targets in Yemen on Thursday.

It marks a significant response after the US and its allies warned the Iran-backed militant group it would bear the consequences of repeated drone and missile attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea, which the Houthis say are revenge against Israel for its military campaign in Gaza.

The strikes come after the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday approved a resolution calling on the Houthis to "cease its brazen" attacks in the commercially vital waterway.

Though the US has carried out strikes against Iranian proxies in Iraq and Syria since the outbreak of the war in Gaza, this marks the first known strike against the Houthis in Yemen. They come at a time of huge tension in the Middle East as the US looks to ensure the war in Gaza does not spill out into the wider region.

Here's what we know:

  • The mission: US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the joint strikes were "intended to disrupt and degrade the Houthis’ capabilities to endanger mariners and threaten global trade." The strikes targeted the Houthis’ unmanned aerial vehicle, uncrewed surface vessel, land-attack cruise missile, and coastal radar and air surveillance capabilities, Austin said in a statement. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the strikes aimed to degrade Houthi military capabilities and safeguard global shipping.
  • US partners: In a statement, US President Joe Biden said the strikes were carried out by the US and the United Kingdom with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands. The British Royal Air Force (RAF) said it conducted strikes against two Houthi facilities in Yemen during the joint operations.
  • Houthi targets: The strikes from fighter jets and Tomahawk missiles hit more than a dozen Houthi targets from air, surface, and sub platforms, a US official told CNN. Houthi officials said the strikes hit several locations in Yemen, including airports.
  • The damage: A senior military official told reporters he could not provide an exact percentage of Houthi assets that were destroyed in the strikes but that it was “significant.” Precision guided munitions were used to destroy the targets “and also to minimize collateral damage,” he said, adding they were "absolutely not targeting civilian population centers." The RAF said detailed results were being assessed, but early indications are that the Houthis' ability to threaten merchant shipping had taken a blow.
  • Why now: The barrage of Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping Tuesday marked the final straw for Biden, a senior US official told CNN. Biden said he ordered the strikes "in direct response to unprecedented Houthi attacks against international maritime vessels in the Red Sea." The 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," he said, adding he would "not hesitate" to take further measures.
  • Houthi response: Houthi forces launched retaliatory attacks on US and UK warships in the Red Sea in retaliation for the assault by the US and its partners, a senior member of the group claimed early Friday. Meanwhile, the Houthi deputy foreign minister warned the US and Britain would face severe repercussions for what he termed a blatant act of aggression.

  • Tense region: Saudi Arabia, a close US military partner which is in a carefully-brokered truce with the Houthis following years of war, expressed deep concern over the security situation in the Red Sea and urged restraint. The Houthis' backers in Tehran did not immediately comment on the strikes.
  • What happens next: The joint strikes on Houthi positions may not be the final moves taken against the Iran-backed group, a senior US administration official said, signaling further action could be necessary to protect people and commerce in the Red Sea. "This may well not be the last word on the topic," the official said.
10:28 p.m. ET, January 11, 2024

Strikes on Houthi targets overdue but necessary, say US senators

From CNN's Morgan Rimmer

A video released by Houthi-run al-Masira TV allegedly shows the moment of the bombardment in Sanaa, Yemen.
A video released by Houthi-run al-Masira TV allegedly shows the moment of the bombardment in Sanaa, Yemen. al-Masira TV

Several US senators offered support for the strikes launched by the United States and Britain against Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen on Thursday, saying that response was long overdue amid increasing threats to international shipping in the Red Sea and regional stability in the Middle East.

Republican Sen. Roger Wicker said the US strike "was two months overdue," but added that "it is a good first step toward restoring deterrence in the Red Sea."

"This strike should be a warning to the Houthis and other Iranian proxies that they will suffer catastrophic consequences from escalation in the region," Wicker said in a statement

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said US President Joe Biden’s decision to use military force against Iranian proxies is also "overdue," adding that "these operations mark an enduring shift in the Biden Administration’s approach to Iran and its proxies."

“I welcome the U.S. and coalition operations against the Iran-backed Houthi terrorists responsible for violently disrupting international commerce in the Red Sea and attacking American vessels," McConnell said in a statement.
“The United States and our allies must leave no room to doubt that the days of unanswered terrorist aggression are over.” 

Sen. Jack Reed, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, hailed "Biden’s strong actions against the Houthi militants," saying the response was "necessary and proportional."

“These strikes, in concert with weeks of diplomacy, send a clear signal that the United States will continue to take appropriate action to protect our personnel, our interests, and freedom of navigation for vital international waterways. Even as the Biden Administration continues to take a balanced and sensible diplomatic approach, today’s military actions were necessary and proportional," Reed said in a statement.

The United States and Britain launched a series of strikes on Yemen on Thursday aimed at the Iran-backed Houthis that began targeting international shipping in the Red Sea late last year. The Houthis say their actions are in response to Israel's military campaign in Gaza.

9:53 p.m. ET, January 11, 2024

US defense secretary ordered and monitored Yemen strikes from hospital, senior defense official says

From CNN's Oren Liebermann

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during a joint press conference with Israel's Defense Minister, in Tel Aviv on December 18, 2023.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during a joint press conference with Israel's Defense Minister, in Tel Aviv on December 18, 2023. Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered and monitored the strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen from the hospital “with a full suite of secure communications,” a senior defense official said Thursday. 

Austin has been in the hospital since January 1 after he experienced complications from a December 22 procedure to treat prostate cancer.  

“Secretary Austin gave CENTCOM the order today to execute the strikes and monitored real-time with a full suite of secure communications capabilities,” the official said. “Following the strikes, he spoke with the National Security Council, the Chairman and the CENTCOM Commander to for an initial post-strike assessment."

The defense official said that between Tuesday and Thursday evening, Austin spoke with President Joe Biden twice and “conducted multiple daily calls” with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Charles Q. Brown, US Central Command commander Gen. Erik Kurilla, and the National Security Council “to discuss response options and execution following the President’s authorization.”

The defense official said in the last 72 hours, "has been actively engaged in overseeing and directing tonight’s strikes."

Austin also participated in a meeting with Brown and Kurilla on January 9 "to monitor the Houthi’s complex attack in maritime shipping lanes and the Operation Prosperity Guardian response." 

Some context: On Tuesday, the Pentagon revealed Austin is being treated for prostate cancer, following days of speculation about the cause of his hospitalization.

The episode has raised huge questions about transparency and communications within the administration, and the White House launched its own internal review of the processes surrounding appropriate notifications and transfer of authorities amid the backlash over Austin’s secrecy.

The Pentagon’s inspector general is also launching a review of whether the Pentagon has the appropriate policies in place to ensure an effective transfer of power and duties following Austin’s hospitalizations that were not immediately disclosed to the White House or other senior national security officials.

9:42 p.m. ET, January 11, 2024

Strikes on Houthi targets "may not be the last word," US official says

From CNN's Kevin Liptak and Natasha Bertrand

US and UK strikes on Houthi positions in Yemen on Thursday may not be the final moves taken against the Iran-backed group, a senior US administration official said Thursday, signaling further action could be necessary to protect people and commerce in the Red Sea.

“This may well not be the last word on the topic. And when we have more to say and more to do, you will hear from us,” the official said.

In his statement, US President Joe Biden vowed to “not hesitate to direct further measures to protect our people and the free flow of international commerce as necessary.”

The steps Biden directed Thursday — which came after a series of meetings with his national security team to discuss and refine a list of targets — were intended to seriously degrade Houthi sites, the official said.

“This was a significant action, and conducted with every objective and every expectation that will degrade in a significant way the Houthi’s capability to launch exactly the sorts of attacks that they have conducted over the period of recent weeks,” the official said.

Impact on Houthis: Meanwhile, a senior military official told reporters he could not provide an exact percentage of Houthi assets that were destroyed — but that it was “significant.” He added that precision-guided munitions were used to destroy the targets “and also to minimize collateral damage.”

"We were absolutely not targeting civilian population centers. We were going after very specific capabilities, in very specific locations, with precision munitions," the official said.

The official emphasized that the strikes were not conducted as a part of Operation Prosperity Guardian, the maritime coalition of 22 countries set up last month to bolster security in the Red Sea. 

The official added that as of now, the Pentagon has not seen signs of retaliatory attacks by the Houthis against US or British assets stationed in the Red Sea. A senior Houthi official earlier claimed the group had launched retaliatory attacks on US and UK warships in the Red Sea in retaliation for the assault by Western allies.

9:35 p.m. ET, January 11, 2024

Saudi Arabia urges restraint as Red Sea conflict escalates

From CNN's Hamdi Alkhshali

Saudi Arabia expressed deep concern over the ongoing military operations in the Red Sea region and the air strikes targeting various sites in Yemen, the country’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“While the Kingdom stresses the importance of maintaining the security and stability of the Red Sea region, in which freedom of navigation is an international demand because it harms the interests of the entire world, it calls for restraint and avoiding escalation in light of the events the region is witnessing,” the statement said.

The statement urged all parties involved to avoid escalating tensions amidst the current regional events.

Some context: The Houthis — an Iran-backed Shia political and military organization that has been fighting a civil war in Yemen against a coalition backed by Saudi Arabia — have been launching drones and missiles at commercial shipping vessels in the Red Sea for weeks, many of which have been intercepted and shot down by US Navy ships in the area.

9:58 p.m. ET, January 11, 2024

British Royal Air Force says it struck military facilities used by Houthis to launch drones

From CNN's Hamdi Alkhshali

An RAF Typhoon aircraft takes off to join the US-led coalition from RAF Akrotiri to conduct air strikes against military targets in Yemen, aimed at the Iran-backed Houthi militia that has been targeting international shipping in the Red Sea, in Cyprus, in this handout picture released on January 12, local time.
An RAF Typhoon aircraft takes off to join the US-led coalition from RAF Akrotiri to conduct air strikes against military targets in Yemen, aimed at the Iran-backed Houthi militia that has been targeting international shipping in the Red Sea, in Cyprus, in this handout picture released on January 12, local time. UK MOD/Handout/Reuters

The British Royal Air Force said it has conducted strikes against two Houthi facilities in Yemen during joint operations in the southern Red Sea on Thursday.

Four RAF Typhoon FGR4s, supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker used Paveway IV guided bombs to conduct strikes on two of these Houthi facilities.

The targets struck include several buildings at a site at Bani in northwestern Yemen used to launch reconnaissance and attack drones, the UK Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

It also struck an airfield at Abbs, which it claimed intelligence has shown that it has been used to launch both cruise missiles and drones over the Red Sea.

The Royal Navy destroyer HMS Diamond has already been active alongside US and French warships in defending vital international shipping lanes against Houthi drones and missiles.

"Given the persistence of the Houthis in threatening merchant ships, several of which have already suffered damage, and the deliberate targeting of HMS Diamond and US Navy vessels on 9 January, coalition forces identified key facilities involved in these attacks, and agreed to conduct a carefully coordinated strike to reduce the Houthis’ capability to violate international law in this manner," the ministry said.

The detailed results of the strikes are being assessed, but early indications are that the Houthis’ ability to threaten merchant shipping has taken a blow, it added.