The U.S. Navy shot down anti-ship ballistic missiles on Tuesday launched by incoming Iran-backed Houthi missiles in the Red Sea, signaling a significant escalation in the region, a senior defense official told Fox News.

The Navy engaged three ballistic missiles provided to Yemen’s Houthis by Iran. It was the first time the Navy shot down an incoming ballistic missile using an anti-ship ballistic missile.

Naval assets, including the USS Laboon and F/A-18 Super Hornets from the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, shot down 12 one-way attack drones, three anti-ship ballistic missiles and two land attack missiles fired by the Houthis over a 12-hour period, U.S. Central Command said.

Nearly 100 drones operated by the Houthis have been shot down since Oct. 17. The group has attacked more than 21 international vessels in the region, which has disrupted global shipping.

The Swiss-based Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) said Tuesday that its container ship MSC United VIII was attacked around 12:25 UTC while en route from King Abdullah Port, Saudi Arabia to Karachi, Pakistan.

“Currently, all crew are safe with no reported injuries and a thorough assessment of the vessel is being introduced,” MSC said in a statement. “Our first priority remains protecting the lives and safety of our seafarers, and until their safety can be ensured MSC will continue to reroute vessels booked for Suez transit via the Cape of Good Hope.”

Attacks in the Red Sea have soared following Israel’s military offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Major shipping companies, including Denmark-based giant Maersk, have been avoiding the Red Sea and sending their ships around Africa and the Cape of Good Hope, adding costs and delays.

Tuesday’s engagement came after three U.S. service members were injured in Iraq on Christmas Day when terrorists with Kataib Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, attacked Erbil Air Base. One of those injured was in critical condition.

In response, U.S. forces conducted airstrikes on three facilities used by Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups in Iraq,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin said.

Source » foxnews