A U.S. Navy destroyer came under attack in the Red Sea on Sunday, the Pentagon said, in what could signal another escalation in the tit-for-tat attacks between the American military and Iranian-backed militants.

A Pentagon official said the U.S.S. Carney, along with several commercial ships nearby, came under fire for several hours beginning around 10 a.m. Sunday. The destroyer intercepted at least one drone during the attack, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The official did not say where the attacks originated. But since Hamas’s Oct. 7 incursion into Israel, the Iran-backed Houthi militia based in Yemen has launched a series of attacks — including with drones and missiles — on Israeli and American targets in the Red Sea.

A Houthi military spokesman, Yahya Sarea, said in a statement on Sunday that the militia had targeted two Israeli ships in the area of the Bab al-Mandeb strait off southern Yemen, but did not mention the American naval vessel. The group fired a missile at one ship and targeted a second with a drone, he said, adding that the Houthis would continue to prevent Israeli ships from sailing in the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea until Israel’s military “stops its aggression” in Gaza.

In October, the Carney shot down three cruise missiles and several drones launched from Yemen that the Pentagon said might have been headed toward Israel.

After Hamas attacked Israel, the Biden administration rushed two aircraft carriers and additional troops to the eastern Mediterranean near Israel to deter Iran and its proxies in the region from expanding the war.

Sunday’s attack underscored the risks that the fight in Gaza could spiral into a wider conflict. For more than a month, Iranian-backed militias have conducted drone and rocket attacks against the 2,500 American troops based in Iraq and the 900 troops in Syria.

Shuaib Almosawa contributed reporting.



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