An oil tanker carrying Russian fuel catches fire after a Houthi attack in the Red Sea

A tanker operated on behalf of trading giant Trafigura Group, which was carrying a cargo of Russian fuel, was hit by a missile while crossing the Red Sea, in the largest attack to date by Yemen's Houthi rebels on a ship carrying oil.

“Firefighting equipment is deployed on board the ship to extinguish and control the fire that broke out in one of the cargo tanks on the starboard side,” a Trafigura spokesman said in a statement on Friday.

“We are still in contact with the ship and monitoring the situation carefully. Military ships are in the area to provide assistance.”

The Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack on the ship Marlin Luanda. A Trafigura spokesman also said the ship was carrying Russian-origin naphtha – a product used to make plastics and gasoline – purchased at a price below the maximum price imposed by the Group of Seven nations.

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The US-led coalition bombs Iran-backed Houthi fighters in Yemen

The US-led coalition bombs Iran-backed Houthi fighters in Yemen

The attack will raise new questions about whether oil tankers will continue crossing the Red Sea.

Since joint US and British air strikes on the Houthis earlier this month, tanker traffic in the region has declined, but some ships have continued to pass through, including those transporting oil from Russia, for which the waterway has become increasingly important since its invasion of Yemen. . Ukraine.

Other major oil exporters such as Saudi Arabia said this week they plan to continue using the route.

The latest incident also indicates that the United States and its allies have not yet been able to sufficiently degrade the Houthis' military capabilities, two weeks after launching the first of several airstrikes on the group's missiles, radars, and other assets across Yemen.

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The United States is expected to press China over Houthi attacks in the Red Sea during talks in Thailand

Last weekend, US Deputy National Security Advisor John Viner said that military operations to deter the Houthis and other Iranian-backed groups will take time.

“Deterrence is not a light switch,” Viner told ABC. “We're taking these stockpiles out so they can't launch as many attacks over time. This will take time to implement.”

In its update on the incident, the British Navy advised ships to cross with caution and said that the authorities were responding.

The region in question and the southern Red Sea have been the center of multiple attacks on ships by Houthi militants in recent weeks.

Since mid-November, the Houthis have launched almost daily attacks on ships crossing the waterway, in an act of solidarity with the Palestinians amid the war between Israel and the armed Hamas movement.

The conflict has diverted trade flows, with some shipping companies avoiding the main waterway.

Earlier on Friday, missiles exploded near a Panama-flagged ship belonging to India carrying barrels from Russia, according to Embry.

Although a Houthi spokesman told the Russian newspaper Izvestia last week that Russian and Chinese ships sailing through the Red Sea would be safe, Friday's attack was the third in close proximity to a ship that had previously docked at a Russian port.

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