(Sanaa) Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed Sunday they had targeted ships off the country’s coast with missiles and drones after maritime security companies said two ships caught fire after being hit by projectiles.

The strikes are the latest in a series of attacks by pro-Iranian rebels against ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November, which they say are carried out in solidarity with the Palestinians in the context of the war in Gaza.

In a statement on  

He identified the ships as the Liberian-flagged MSC Tavvishi and the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged Norderney.  

The Houthi official added that the rebels had also targeted the HMS Diamond, a British warship. This attack has not been confirmed by a British source.

Earlier, British maritime security company Ambrey reported that a missile hit a cargo ship on Saturday evening off the coast of Yemen.

“A cargo ship flying the flag of Antigua and Barbuda was hit by an 83NM missile southeast of Aden (Yemen) […] A fire broke out, but was neutralized […] People on board small boats opened fire on the vessel during the incident,” Ambrey said, adding that no injuries were reported.

Britain’s maritime safety agency UKMTO confirmed an “incident” in the area in which “an unknown projectile” struck a vessel, and urged vessels to exercise caution. “All crew are safe and the ship continues on its way,” the agency added.

According to the Ambrey company, “a second missile was seen, but did not hit” the cargo ship.

Another “incident” occurred on Saturday evening in the Gulf of Aden, during which a ship “was struck by an unknown projectile on the stern, which caused a fire,” the British agency UKMTO said on Sunday morning , without reporting any victims.

Since November, Yemeni rebels have launched several dozen drone and missile strikes against ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, disrupting global maritime trade in this strategic area.

In response, the United States set up a multinational force in December to protect shipping in the Red Sea and launched strikes in Yemen against rebels in January, with help from the United Kingdom.

But the strikes have not deterred the Houthis, who control large swaths of war-torn Yemen, and say they are now targeting ships linked to Israel, as well as American and British ships.  

Last week, the Houthis threatened to step up their attacks after US-British strikes on their positions killed 16 people, according to the rebels’ TV channel.