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EU launches mission to protect Red Sea shipping

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According to an official from the European Union, the mission, known as 'Aspides', which is 'Greek for shield,' is expected to begin operations with at least four vessels in a 'few weeks'

According to European Union leader Ursula von der Leyen, the EU has formally begun a mission to assist in defending international shipping in the Red Sea against attacks by Yemen’s Huthis.

The president of the European Commission tweeted on X, “Europe will ensure freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, working alongside our international partners.”

Since November, the Huthis, who control a large portion of Yemen’s war-torn country, have been bombing the crucial shipping route in what they claim is a show of support for Palestinians in Gaza during the Israel-Hamas conflict.

According to an official from the European Union, the mission, known as Aspides, which is Greek for “shield,” is expected to begin operations with at least four vessels in a “few weeks”.

The main officer in operational control at sea will be Italian, while the overall commander will be Greek, the European Union official noted.

During a conference of foreign ministers in Brussels, Italian ambassador to Belgium Antonio Tajani confirmed the launch, describing it as “an important step towards common European defence.”

Thus far, Belgium, France, Germany, and Italy have expressed their intention to provide ships.

The European Union asserts that no strikes would be conducted “on Yemeni soil” and that the mission’s initial one-year mandate is restricted to safeguarding civilian ships in the Red Sea.

Along with Britain, the United States has already led its own naval coalition in the region and carried out operations against the Huthis in Yemen.

“Continuous military-to-military contact” will be established, according to an EU official, to coordinate operations with US and other forces in the area.

In a couple of weeks, the 27 member states of the European Union agreed to the Red Sea mission, raising fears that the Huthi strikes may harm their businesses and increase inflation.

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