The tensions spilling over from the war in the Gaza Strip to merchant shipping in the Red Sea escalated Saturday when Britain and the United States said their militaries had shot down more than a dozen attack drones.

The Houthis, an armed group that controls much of northern Yemen, have been staging drone and missile assaults on Israeli and American targets since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks on Israel. They have said they intend to prevent Israeli ships from sailing the Red Sea until Israel stops its war on Hamas, which rules Gaza. The Houthis and Hamas, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, are backed by Iran.

The shipping industry was also bracing for potential economic fallout as the Red Sea, a vital sea lane, is increasingly drawn into the regional unrest. U.S. Central Command said in a statement that a U.S. guided missile destroyer, the USS Carney, "successfully engaged” 14 drones launched from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. It said the confrontation resulted in no injuries or damage to ships in the area.