A U.S. Navy destroyer was targeted on Wednesday in a failed missile attack from territory in Yemen controlled by Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, the second such incident in four days, the U.S. military said.
The USS Mason fired defensive salvos in response to at least one missile which did not hit the ship or caused any damage as it operated north of the Bab al-Mandab Strait, the Pentagon said. Indications are that the second salvo brought down an incoming missile, one U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The renewed attempt to target the U.S. Navy destroyer will add pressure on the U.S. military to retaliate, a move that would represent the first direct U.S. military action against Houthis in Yemen's conflict. The Pentagon said it would respond "at the appropriate time and in the appropriate manner."
The United States, a longtime ally of Saudi Arabia, has provided aerial refueling of jets from a Saudi-led coalition striking Yemen and it supplies U.S. weapons sales to the kingdom.
Michael Knights, an expert on Yemen's conflict at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said the missile attacks appeared to be the Houthis' response to an attack last weekend, widely blamed on Saudi-led forces, on mourners gathered in Yemen's Houthi-held capital Sanaa.
The White House says it is reviewing its support for Saudi-led forces in Yemen in the wake of Saturday's strike, which killed at least 140 people by one count.