A Yemeni coastguard member loyal to the internationally-recognised government rides in a patrol boat in the Red Sea off of the government-held town of Mokha in the western Taiz province, close to the strategic Bab al-Mandab Strait, on December 12, 2023. A Liberian-flagged cargo ship was set ablaze in the Red Sea on Friday after getting hit by a projectile from rebel-held Yemen. (Photo by Khaled ZIAD / AFP) (Photo by KHALED ZIAD/AFP via Getty Images) AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGE

Liberia-flagged ship in Red Sea catches fire after being hit by projectile from rebel-controlled Yemen, US official says

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A Liberian-flagged cargo ship caught fire in the Red Sea on Friday after being hit by a projectile launched from rebel-controlled Yemen, authorities said.

The attack on the Al Jasrah, though causing no injuries, further escalates a campaign by Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who have claimed responsibility for a series of missile assaults in recent days that just missed shipping in the Red Sea and its strategic Bab el-Mandeb Strait.

The attacks are a response to the Israel-Hamas war and the pounding air-and-ground offensive targeting the Gaza Strip, though the links to the ships targeted in the rebel assaults has grown more tenuous — or nonexistent — as the attacks continue.

The Houthis did not immediately claim responsibility for the assault on the Al Jasrah.

A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said the attack took place. The private intelligence firm Ambrey also confirmed the attack.

“The projectile reportedly hit the port side of the vessel and one container fell overboard due to the impact,” Ambrey said. “The projectile caused a ‘fire on deck’ which was broadcast via” radio.

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