Which rebels are hurting billions in commerce and threatening Middle Eastern conflict?

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U.S. and British ships fired fighter aircraft and Tomahawk missiles at Houthi sites in Yemen on Thursday night ET, according to two U.S. officials.

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DOHA, Qatar— Yemen's Houthi rebels, battle-hardened and backed by Iran, have attacked Israel and commercial ships in the Red Sea,

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raising fears of a wider conflict in a region already reeling from the Gaza war and on edge about Israel-Hezbollah violence in Lebanon. 

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After supporting Hamas against Israel last year, they bombarded Red Sea ships. British authorities said they fired 21 drones and missiles Tuesday, their biggest attack yet, despite a UN resolution and U.S. and Western allies' ultimatums to stop.

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Two U.S. sources said fighter jets and Tomahawk missiles from U.S. and British ships hit Houthi-controlled Yemen overnight into Friday am local time.

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After Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Wednesday that more attacks could spark a Western military reaction, the U.S. and U.K. escalated their military action against the Houthis in Yemen.

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The midnight strikes followed two administration officials telling NBC News last week that President Joe Biden's national security team met at the White House to discuss prospective strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen. 

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U.S. ships have hit Houthi warships near Yemen. On Tuesday in Saudi Arabia, Blinken warned the Houthis of “consequences” for their strikes. He noted that the U.S. "strong preference is that the Houthis get the message," not military action.

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