US targets Houthi funding network following attacks on commercial ships

US slaps sanctions on 13 people and entities allegedly involved in efforts to direct funds to the Iran-backed group.

The United States has announced sanctions targeting an Iran-backed network for allegedly providing funding for Yemen’s Houthi rebel group through Iranian commodity sales.

In a statement on Thursday, the US Department of the Treasury said that it was designating 13 people and entities allegedly involved in efforts to funnel tens of millions of dollars to the Houthis.

“The Houthis continue to receive funding and support from Iran, and the result is unsurprising: unprovoked attacks on civilian infrastructure and commercial shipping, disrupting maritime security and threatening international commercial trade,” Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in a statement.

The announcement comes as the Houthis, an Iran-backed group that has expanded its influence in Yemen during a protracted civil war, have carried out a series of raids on commercial ships in the region and launched missile and drone attacks on Israel.

The Houthis have said that those attacks are in response to Israel’s assault on Gaza, where it is fighting the Palestinian armed group Hamas.

The Treasury statement says that the network is backed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a branch of Iran’s armed forces that carries out clandestine activities, and includes a series of exchange firms in countries including Yemen, Turkey, and St Kitts and Nevis.

The department says that Sa’id al-Jamal, previously sanctioned for alleged activities as a Houthi and Iranian financial facilitator, uses the network of exchange firms to direct funds to the Houthis. Money lenders in Lebanon and Dubai are also listed.

“Treasury will continue to disrupt the financial facilitation and procurement networks that enable these destabilizing activities,” the statement reads.