Iran deploys warships off Yemen after US, Houthis trade fire

Iran deployed two warships off Yemen threatening to further escalate tensions after the U.S. fired Tomahawk cruise missiles destroying three coastal radar sites in Houthi-controlled territory, a U.S. official confirmed to Fox News on Thursday.

Iran sent the ships to the Gulf of Aden, one of the world’s most vital shipping routes, “to protect trade vessels from piracy,” Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

Still, analysts warn the move could ratchet up the danger to U.S. forces in the region. U.S. intelligence has linked Iran to the funding of Yemen’s Shiite rebels, who have also waged a series of attacks against Saudi Arabia, a longtime U.S. ally.

The U.S. official said the Houthis indeed fired missiles targeting American ships twice over just four days. The ships were not hit. The U.S. destroyed the coastal radar sites early Thursday.

Fox News is told one of the Iranian ships carries the same type of anti-ship missiles the Houthis were suspected of firing this week, and the other ship carries a helicopter. White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said the U.S. would not speculate on the Iranians’ intentions.