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Houthi Red Sea attacks decline in last week as navies act, Greece says

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Closer international cooperation between naval missions in the Red Sea has reduced the number of attacks by Yemen’s Houthis over the past week, Greek Shipping Minister Christos Stylianides told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

Christos Stylianides © The Parliament 

Closer international cooperation between naval missions in the Red Sea has reduced the number of attacks by Yemen’s Houthis over the past week, Greek Shipping Minister Christos Stylianides told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

Greece is the home of the headquarters of the European Union's naval operation in the Red Sea, which is dubbed "Aspides" and in Greek means "Shields".

"For us, it is a satisfaction that during the past week we see a notable reduction in the number and intensity of attacks. This is the reality," Stylianides said, speaking on the sidelines of the Posidonia shipping week in Athens.

"It is another proof that the international community with decisiveness can stop this."

Aspides was set up this year to guard vessels against attacks by Iranian-aligned Houthi militants, who have launched repeated drone and missile strikes in the Red Sea region since November and have expanded attacks to other busy waterways.

Houthis describe their attacks as acts of solidarity with Palestinians in Israel's war in Gaza.

Shipping has not seen such politically motivated attacks since World War Two, said Stylianides, a former EU Commissioner, adding that they have caused "tangible repercussions, geopolitically, commercially, legally, environmentally".

The recent reduction, he said, showed that Aspides and the U.S-led Operation Prosperity Guardian complement each other in helping restore freedom of trade in the area.

The Houthis have sunk one ship, the Rubymar, and seized another vessel. Three seafarers were killed in a separate attack.

Greece, which is leading the shipping sector in terms of tonnage, has also been affected, he said, adding that that was also a reason behind the country's decision to play a more leading role in the EU initiative.

The Houthis have launched attacks against at least two Greek operated ships in recent weeks.

"There is no reluctance to be in the frontline," he said. "As a country, first in the maritime field, we have to take our responsibilities and our duties".

By Renee Maltezou and Jonathan Saul

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