In Yemen, a U.S. warship fired missiles into Houthi-controlled territory Thursday, marking a major escalation of U.S. military involvement in the ongoing war in Yemen. The Pentagon says the missile strikes were approved by President Obama. They were targeting radar installations the Pentagon claims have been used by the Houthis in recent days to fire on a different U.S. warship, also stationed off the coast. The U.S. has already been backing the Saudi-led coalition bombing campaign against the Houthi rebels in Yemen for over a year, despite reports of civilian deaths, including the deaths of more than 140 mourners at a funeral in Sana’a over the weekend. On Tuesday, State Department spokesperson John Kirby struggled to answer questions by the Associated Press’s Matt Lee over how the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Yemen are different from those carried out by the Syrian and Russian governments in Aleppo.
Matt Lee: “Over the weekend, you saw there was this airstrike on a funeral by the Saudi-led coalition, and I’m just wondering: Does the administration see any difference between this kind of thing and what you accuse the Russians and the Syrians and the Iranians of doing in Syria, particularly Aleppo?”
John Kirby: “Well, yeah, I think there are some differences.”
Matt Lee: “Other than that you support the Saudi coalition and don’t support the Syrians and Russians, what are the other differences?”
John Kirby: “Well, look, there’s a couple things, Matt. Um…”