US says Iranian operatives in Yemen aiding Huthi attacks

Operatives from Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah are working inside Yemen to support Huthi insurgents' attacks on international shipping, a U.S. official said Tuesday.

Tim Lenderking, the U.S. special envoy for Yemen, told a Senate subcommittee that Iran's clerical state was "equipping and facilitating" the Huthi attacks, which have triggered retaliatory U.S. and British strikes on Yemen.

"Credible public reports suggest a significant number of Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah operatives are supporting Huthi attacks from inside Yemen," Lenderking said.

"I can't imagine the Yemeni people want these Iranians in their country. This must stop," he said.

The White House said in December that Iran was "deeply involved" in planning the attacks, which the Huthis say are acts of solidarity with the Palestinians in the Israel-Hamas war.

Lenderking, who has dealt with the Huthis since the start of President Joe Biden's administration as he helped diplomacy to freeze a brutal civil war, acknowledged that the rebels have not been deterred.

"The fact that they continue this, and have said publicly that they will not stop until there's a ceasefire in Gaza, is an indication that we're not yet at the point, unfortunately, where they do intend to dial back," Lenderking said.

The bombing campaign drew skepticism from some senators from Biden's Democratic Party.

Chris Murphy, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Middle East, agreed that the United States has "an obligation to respond" to attacks on shipping but added, "I do worry about the efficacy."

He noted that U.S. and U.K. strikes have hit a number of sites struck by a massive 2015-2022 Saudi-led air campaign against the Huthis.

"If 23,000...

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