yemen houthi red sea
© GettyA member of Yemen's Ansarallah resistance movement previously implied the group's involvement in the incident
US Central Command (CENTCOM) announced on 22 January that the two navy seals who went missing earlier this month have been declared dead.

"The search and rescue operation for the two Navy SEALs reported missing during the boarding of an illicit dhow carrying Iranian advanced conventional weapons on 11 January have concluded and we are now conducting recovery operations," CENTCOM went on to say.

US officials cited by the Washington Post on 14 January said that while preparing to board a vessel suspected of carrying weapons bound for Yemen, one of the navy seals slipped from a ladder and fell into rough seas. His comrade then jumped in to rescue him.

Comment: While that's unlikely to be true, that's still not a good look for the US Navy Seals.

Officials had told the Washington Post a day earlier, on 13 January, that the incident had nothing to do with recent US airstrikes on Yemen, nor was it related to the Iranian seizure of a Marshall Islands-flagged ship on 11 January.

An official representing the Ansarallah resistance movement recently implied Yemen's involvement.

Muhammad al-Bukhaiti, a senior member of Ansarallah's political bureau, said on 15 January: "An American warship was hit in a previous operation by our forces, and the Americans admitted to the loss of two of its soldiers."

Comment: A classic, and apt, line: "Praise be to God our enemies are idiots".

One day before the seals were declared missing, a US vessel was targeted by several Yemeni drones and missiles.

The navy seals pronounced dead by CENTCOM are the first known US fatalities since the outbreak of the Gaza-Israel war on 7 October.

Since 12 January, Washington and the UK have launched several rounds of violent attacks on Yemen in response to Ansarallah and the Sanaa government's maritime campaign against Israeli shipping and vessels bound for Israeli ports.

The strikes have resulted in several casualties. Ansarallah and the Yemeni Armed Forces have responded with attacks on a number of US ships, and have vowed to continue naval operations against vessels linked to or bound for Israel until the war and siege in Gaza come to an end.