THE UK has launched targeted strikes against military facilities used by Houthi rebels in Yemen, with Rishi Sunak saying the UK will “always stand up for freedom of navigation and the free flow of trade”.

It marks the first time strikes have been launched against the group since it started targeting international shipping in the Red Sea late last year, and it vowed there would be retaliation.

US president Joe Biden (below) said US military forces, backed by the UK and supported by Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands conducted strikes against a number of targets in Yemen.

The National: President Joe Biden says Israel is losing international support (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Reacting to the news, a number of senior SNP figures have joined calls to recall Parliament as a result of the strikes.

Houthis has said it began striking a narrow strip of sea between Yemen and East Africa, which is a key international trade route, in a bid to end Israel's air and ground offensive against Hamas. 

In an interview with Reuters on Thursday, the chief negotiator for Houthis Mohammed Abdulsalam said the group is trying to pressure the west into agreeing to a ceasefire in Gaza.

“The one who is dragging the region into a wider war is the one who allows the continuation of the aggression and the siege that continues for more than 100 days in the Gaza Strip," he said. 

First Minister Humza Yousaf said on Twitter/X: “The UK does not have a good record of military intervention in the Middle East.

“It is therefore incumbent that Westminster is recalled, MPs briefed and allowed to debate and scrutinise any decision to pursue military action that the UK Government is proposing.”

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn also said MPs should be recalled, calling the situation “complex and serious”.

The National:

Elsewhere, SNP MP Douglas Chapman commented: “Genuinely surprised and concerned that @StephenFlynn (SNP 3rd largest party in Parliament) has not had briefing from the PM.

“Given the gravity of a developing and dangerous situation, it looks like a political misjudgement on @RishiSunak part.”

What has Rishi Sunak said?

Speaking early on Friday morning, the PM said: “In recent months, the Houthi militia have carried out a series of dangerous and destabilising attacks against commercial shipping in the Red Sea, threatening UK and other international ships, causing major disruption to a vital trade route and driving up commodity prices.

“Their reckless actions are risking lives at sea and exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

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“Despite the repeated warnings from the international community, the Houthis have continued to carry out attacks in the Red Sea, including against UK and US warships just this week. This cannot stand. The United Kingdom will always stand up for freedom of navigation and the free flow of trade.”

He added: “The Royal Navy continues to patrol the Red Sea as part of the multinational Operation Prosperity Guardian to further deter Houthi aggression, and we urge them to cease their attacks and take steps to de-escalate.”

What about Keir Starmer?

The Labour leader (below) has said he supports targeted strikes against Houthi rebels but called for a statement to be made in Parliament “at the first opportunity”.

The National: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer speaking during the British Chambers Commerce Annual Global conference (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, he said the action had his support and added: “The Government briefed me in a Cobra secure briefing last night about the action that was going to be taken that has now been taken.

“Clearly the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea have to be dealt with, their attacks on commercial shipping, attacks on important trade routes and putting civilians lives at risk and therefore, we do support this action.”

He said he thinks there should be a statement in Parliament “to set out the justification, to set out the limits and the scope of the operation”.