S. Korea, 9 others lambast Houthi attacks, back coalition strikes in joint statement

Ten countries, including South Korea, issued a joint statement Thursday in support of precision strikes that the United States and Britain conducted against Iran-backed Houthis in response to their repeated attacks in the Red Sea. The U.S. and Britain, with support from the Netherlands, Canada, Bahrain and Australia, conducted coalition strikes on military targets in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen earlier in the day following more than two dozen attacks by the rebels since mid-November. The 10 countries underscored that the strikes proceeded "in accordance with the inherent right of individual and collective self-defense, consistent with the U.N. Charter" in response to "continued illegal, dangerous and destabilizing" Houthi attacks against vessels transiting the Red Sea. The countries are Korea, the U.S., Britain, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and New Zealand. "Today's action demonstrated a shared commitment to freedom of navigation, international commerce, and defending th e lives of mariners from illegal and unjustifiable attacks," the statement read. "Our aim remains to de-escalate tensions and restore stability in the Red Sea, but let our message be clear: we will not hesitate to defend lives and protect the free flow of commerce in one of the world's most critical waterways in the face of continued threats," it added. In a separate statement, U.S. President Joe Biden stressed that the coalition strikes are a "clear" message that the U.S. and its partners will not allow hostile actors to imperil freedom of navigation in one of the world's most critical commercial routes. "I will not hesitate to direct further measures to protect our people and the free flow of international commerce as necessary," he said. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also released a statement, saying the coalition strikes were intended to "disrupt and degrade the Houthis' capabilities to endanger mariners and threaten global trade in one of the world's most critical waterways." "The United State s maintains its right to self-defense and, if necessary, we will take follow-on actions to protect U.S. forces," he said in the statement. The joint strikes by the U.S. and Britain targeted sites associated with the Houthis' unmanned aerial vehicle, ballistic and cruise missile, and coastal radar and air surveillance capabilities, according to U.S. officials. Source: Yonhap News Agency