The leader of Yemen's Houthi Ansarullah movement has warned that the US military is preparing the ground for an act of aggression against the war-torn Arab country.
In a televised speech on Thursday, Abdul Malik Badreddin al-Houthi slammed Washington’s recent missile attacks against three mobile radar sites on Yemen’s Red Sea coast, saying the nation and armed forces should stay vigilant and stand fully ready to face the invaders.
“The US is after laying the groundwork for making an invasive move against [western coastal] Hudaydah Province,” the statement said, adding, “Through this measure, the US is after building up pressure on and harassing the people of Yemen.”
“The Yemeni nation will defend its territory, freedom and independence, seeing it as its right to use any legitimate means against violent invasions,” the Houthi leader said.
He made the comments on the anniversary of the October 14, 1963 onset of an armed struggle, which forced the British into withdrawal from southern Yemen.
The US on Wednesday hit Yemen's radar sites after claiming that the USS Mason, a guided-missile destroyer, had come under the Yemeni attack for the second time in four days.
Yemeni officials have rejected the allegations as "unfounded" aimed at providing a pretext for the intelligence and logistics support which the US has provided to Saudi Arabia in its military campaign.
US accusations came in the wake of a Saudi aerial attack on a funeral which killed more than 140 people attending a wake for the father of Yemen's interior minister in the capital Sana'a on Saturday.
Ansarullah on Thursday “expressed readiness to work with any United Nations or international body to investigate these allegations and to punish those behind this, regardless who they may be,” the Saba Net news agency reported.
Spokesman for Yemeni forces Brigadier General Sharaf Luqman denounced US missile strikes, saying Yemen reserves the right to defend itself in the face of such threats.
Pentagon on warpath
The Pentagon, however, said it was preparing for possible new strikes in Yemen.
“This is about protecting our people, period,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said even though he acknowledged that the US has yet to determine who was responsible for the alleged launch of missiles.
"We don't know who was pulling the trigger," but the missiles were launched from "Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen," Cook claimed.
Many observers believe US allegations of Yemeni attacks on its warships are aimed at turning away attention from the Sana'a carnage and reducing pressure on Washington over its aid to the Saudis.
They say the Yemeni army and its allies are unlikely to have opted for opening a new front, which would only undermine their position in the battle against Saudi Arabia.
Washington, along with the UK, has been a major arms provider to Saudi Arabia, which has been at war against its southern neighbor since March 2015.
The US has supported the Saudi military and its allies with aerial refueling and targeting assistance during the war on Yemen.