This undated photograph released by the U.S. military's Central Command shows what it is described as Iranian-made missile components bound for Yemen's Houthi seized off a vessel in the Arabian Sea. REUTERS/FILE PHOTO

By Kanishka Singh and Costas Pitas

 – The Iran-backed Houthi militia launched two anti-ship ballistic missiles at a U.S.-owned tanker ship late on Thursday that hit the water near the vessel but caused no injuries or damage, the U.S. military said.

The incident, the latest amid growing tensions in the Red Sea that have disrupted global trade and raised fears of supply bottlenecks, took place around 9 p.m. Yemen time (1800 GMT), according to a U.S. Central Command post on X, formerly called Twitter.



This undated photograph released by the U.S. military's Central Command shows what it is described as Iranian-made missile

The Houthis, who control most of Yemen, earlier on Thursday claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they targeted the ship Chem Ranger with naval missiles that caused “direct hits”.

Monitoring service said on social media that the “fairly small chemical tanker left the Red Sea port of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for Kuwait, but her AIS (automatic identification system) went offline on (Tuesday) before proceeding south past Yemen.”

Attacks by the Iran-allied Houthi militia on ships in and around the Red Sea for several weeks have slowed trade between Asia and Europe and alarmed major powers in an escalation of the war in Gaza.

The Houthis say their attacks are in solidarity with Palestinians under attack from Israel in Gaza.

Since last week, the United States has launched strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen, and this week returned the militia to a list of “terrorist” groups.

President Joe Biden said on Thursday that air strikes would continue even as he acknowledged they may not be halting the Houthi attacks.

“Are they stopping the Houthis? No. Are they gonna continue? Yes,” Biden told reporters aboard Air Force One.

The confrontation risks an expansion of the conflict beyond Hamas-governed Gaza, where the local health ministry says over 24,000 people – or more than 1% of Gaza’s 2.3 million population – have been killed in Israel’s assault.

Israel launched its offensive following Oct. 7 attacks on by the Palestinian Islamist group, which Israeli officials say killed 1,200 people.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh and Eric Beech in Washington, Ahmed Tolba in Cairo and Costas Pitas in Los Angeles; editing by Dan Whitcomb and Miral Fahmy)

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