France says not part of US-led anti-Yemen coalition, focuses on own ships

A top French commander says the naval forces are accompanying ships with French interests through the Red Sea, as Yemeni armed forces continue to target vessels bound for the occupied Palestinian territories.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Rear-Admiral Emmanuel Slaars said the French forces remained entirely under French control. He said France’s current mandate did not include directly striking Yemeni armed forces.

“We regularly escort French-flagged ships or with French interests in the Red Sea. We accompany them all along their crossing,” Slaars stated.

The commander, however, said France was also working closely with the United States in the area by exchanging information.

The French Defense Ministry recently announced it supported efforts to secure freedom of navigation in the Red Sea and said it already operated in the region. However, it said its ships would stay under French command and did not say if it would deploy more naval forces.

Yemen has already warned it will prevent the passage of all ships in the Red Sea bound to the occupied territories and has dismissed plans to build a US-led coalition against the Yemeni forces.

In a major setback to the US-led coalition in the Red Sea to protect passage of Israeli-owned and Israel-bound merchant vessels, France, Spain, and Italy have officially withdrawn from the alliance. The trio explicitly stated their commitment to operating exclusively under the command of international bodies such as the United Nations, NATO, or the European Union, choosing not to align with the United States.

Yemen has vowed retaliation in the wake of the killing of 10 Yemeni naval personnel in late December, when the US Navy sunk three of speedboats of Ansarullah.

The leader of Yemen’s Ansarullah movement, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, has made it clear all other ships except those bounded for occupied Palestinian territories are safe as long as their countries were not part of or planned to join the US-led anti-Yemen coalition.

Reports revealed that Israeli shipping companies have already decided to reroute their vessels in fear of attacks by Yemeni forces.

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