Hezbollah leader says security of all shipping harmed after US strikes on Houthis

Hezbollah leader says security of all shipping harmed after US strikes on Houthis

BEIRUT (AFP): The Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah said on Sunday US actions in the Red Sea would harm the security of all shipping as the area had now become a conflict zone, saying the Houthis of Yemen would keep up attacks despite US and British strikes.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, whose group is a leading part of an Iran-aligned regional alliance which includes the Houthis, said Houthi targeting of ships belonging to Israel or heading to its ports would continue.

“The more dangerous thing is what the Americans did in the Red Sea will harm the security of all maritime navigation, even the ships that are not going to Palestine, even the ships which are not Israeli, even the ships that have nothing to do with the matter, because the sea has become a theatre of fighting, missiles, drones and war ships,” he said.

“Security has been disrupted.”

US and British forces on Friday launched dozens of airstrikes against Houthi forces in retaliation for attacks on Red Sea shipping. The group says it took the action to support Palestinians under Israeli siege and attack in Gaza. Washington launched another strike overnight Friday-Saturday.

The Houthis have vowed to retaliate for the attacks.

The Red Sea crisis has fueled fears of a further escalation of the conflict that has rippled around the Middle East since war erupted between the Palestinian group Hamas and Israel on October 7.

Hezbollah, the Houthis, and Iran-backed militias in Iraq have all entered the fray since then, with Hezbollah firing at Israeli positions along the Lebanese-Israeli frontier, and Iraqi militias firing on US forces in Iraq and Syria.

Nasrallah said envoys sent to Lebanon had been seeking to “extinguish” the Lebanon front by delivering a warning that if the group did not stop its attacks “Israel will launch a war on Lebanon.” He did not identify the envoys.

Nasrallah said the aim of the Lebanon front was to “stop the aggression against Gaza.”

The United States should understand “that the security of the Red Sea and calm on Lebanon’s front, the situation in Iraq, and all developments in the region is tied to one thing: to stop the aggression against Gaza,” Nasrallah said.

“You are trying to deal with the consequences and the results, go fix the reason.”

Nasrallah was speaking to commemorate the death of a top Hezbollah commander, Wissam Tawil, who was killed in south Lebanon last week, the most senior Hezbollah commander to die in three months of hostilities with Israel.

The war began on October 7 when Hamas fighters stormed Israel, killing 1,200 people and abducting 240 more, according to Israeli tallies.

Since then, nearly 24,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip during an Israeli offensive which has laid waste to the territory, according to the toll of the health authorities in Hamas-run Gaza.

The Houthis have also fired drones and missiles up the Red Sea at Israel itself. Many of the vessels attacked by the Houthis have had no known connection to Israel.