Kirby says Yemen’s Houthis ‘still have some offensive capability’ despite waves of US strikes

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White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Friday that the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen “still have some offensive capability” despite repeated waves of U.S. military strikes against the rebel group. 

Kirby made the comment a day after President Biden, when asked by a reporter about the effectiveness of the strikes, said, “Well, when you say working, are they stopping the Houthis? No. Are they going to continue? Yes.” 

Kirby told reporters Friday at the White House Press Briefing that the Pentagon conducts an assessment following each strike to determine how successful they have been. 

“They believe that they have had good effects on degrading some of these Houthi capabilities,” Kirby said. “But clearly, and the president alluded to this yesterday, they still have some offensive capability, and we’re going to keep taking the actions we believe we need to take to defend ourselves.” 

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION MISSING MARK AS IT REDESIGNATES IRAN-BACKED HOUTHIS TO TERROR LIST, CRITICS SAY 

Houthi supporters rally to denounce the U.S. labeling of Houthis as a ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorist’ group, in Sanaa, Yemen, on Friday, January 19. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

Kirby also revealed that this morning, U.S. forces in the region “conducted three successful self-defense strikes” against the Houthis. 

“This is the fourth preemptive action that the U.S. military has taken in the past week against Houthi missile launchers that were ready to launch attacks, in this case, anti-ship missiles,” he added. 

US FORCES STRIKE 2 HOUTHI ANTI-SHIP MISSILES, TWO DEFENSE OFFICIALS SAY 

Houthis raise fists

Houthi fighters and tribesmen stage a rally against the U.S. and the U.K. strikes on Houthi-run military sites near Sanaa, Yemen, on Sunday, January 14, 2024. (AP Photo) (AP)

Kirby again warned the Houthis to stop their attacks against commercial ships in the Red Sea. 

US airstrikes against Yemen's Houthis

An aircraft takes off to join the U.S.-led coalition 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, from an undisclosed location, in this screengrab from a video released on January 12.  (US Central Command via X/Reuters.)

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“They can make that choice. Clearly, they’ve made opposite choices,” he said. “So we have choices to make too, and we have options available to us as well. We’ll continue to explore those options. Clearly, one of the options that we are and will continue to take are in the military realm if needed.” 

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