Italy to supply admiral for EU Red Sea naval mission

(L-R) High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto, and Belgian Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder attend an informal meeting of European Defense Ministers in Brussels, Belgium, 31 January 2024. [Olivier Hoslet/EPA]

Italy will provide the admiral in command of a European Union Red Sea naval mission to protect ships from attacks by Yemen's Houthi militia, Defence Minister Guido Crosetto said on Friday.

Many commercial shippers have diverted vessels following attacks by the Houthis, who control much of Yemen and say they are acting in solidarity with the Palestinians in the face of Israel's attack on Gaza.

"The European Union today asked Italy to supply the Force Commander for the Aspides Operation in the Red Sea," Crosetto said in a statement.

The EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Wednesday he hoped the mission, to be named Aspides - meaning "protector" in ancient Greek - could be launched on Feb. 17.

Its mandate would be to protect commercial ships and intercept attacks, but not take part in strikes against the Houthis, Borrell said.


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