Anne Maxwell, I-TEAM and general assignment reporter

Published: February 5, 2024, 3:56 PMUpdated: February 5, 2024, 7:32 PMTags: Iran, Middle East

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The U.S. and Britain hit dozens of Houthi targets in Yemen this weekend, continuing to strike back after attacks on American and international ships in the region by Iran-backed groups.

The U.S. Department of Defense said multinational strikes in Yemen this weekend are “…send[ing] a clear message to the Houthis that they will continue to bear further consequences if they do not end their illegal attacks on international shipping and naval vessels.”

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Retired Admiral Bob Natter, who spent close to four decades in the Navy, explained why Iran is backing attacks on U.S. interests in the region.

“The reality is that they’re doing it because they don’t like what’s going on over in Gaza. They don’t like and they’ve never liked the Israelis, for that matter. They’ve wished death on them and us,” Natter said.

On Friday, the U.S. launched air strikes on more than 85 targets in seven locations in Iraq and Syria, taking aim at militias backed by Iran.

This comes in response to the three Americans killed in the Jan. 28 drone attack on the base known as Tower 22, located along the border of Jordan and Syria.

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Natter is worried about escalation.

“I think everybody should be. But again, that’s not entirely in our hands. Our ability to influence anyone who’s shooting at us is to send a strong signal, which I think we’ve had done over the last month, really. And then to follow it up with something that shows that you’re serious,” he said.

On Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the recent strikes are only the beginning of the US response.

The State Department has designated the Iran-backed Houthis as a terrorist group due to attacks on international ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, as well as attacks on military forces positioned in the area to defend commercial shipping.

Natter said he doesn’t know if the U.S. will end up sending more servicemembers to the region.

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