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Belgium sends warship to Red Sea

by editor

BRUSSELS — Belgium will send a warship to join a European mission in the Red Sea to counter attacks from Iran-backed Houthi rebels targeting commercial vessels, it announced at a Foreign Affairs Council briefing Friday.

The frigate Louise-Marie is equipped with 16 anti-missile Sea Sparrow missiles.

Since November, ships sailing via the Red Sea have been targeted by Houthi missiles and drones, in what the rebels say is an effort to aid Hamas in its war with Israel.

American and British navies carried out airstrikes against Houthi targets in Yemen throughout January to deter further attacks.

Hadja Lahbib, Belgium’s foreign minister, has been pushing for Belgian participation in the international Red Sea coalition, but left-wing parties in the federal coalition were reluctant to approve. 

This week, an agreement was reached within the federal government to let the country participate in naval missions in the Red Sea if Belgium would use its presidency of the Council of the EU to increase pressure to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza and allow access to the region for humanitarian aid convoys.

The Louise-Marie was built in 1989 and sold to Belgium by the Netherlands in 2008.

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