FACT CHECK: USA Today Claims U.S. Hit Houthis In Iraq, Syria And Yemen

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

USA Today published on social media that claim the U.S. hit the Houthi rebels in Iraq, Syria and Yemen in retaliation for a drone strike that killed three American soldiers.


Verdict: False

The U.S. struck the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and other Iranian-backed militias in Syria and Iraq, not the Houthis, in retaliation for the drone strike. The Houthi airstrikes were not in response to the drone strike.

Fact Check:

The U.S. and the U.K. struck more Houthi targets on Feb. 3, the third round of joint airstrikes since Jan. 11, according to Axios. The airstrikes struck several targets, including underground bunkers, the outlet reported.

USA Today published a video, which also appeared in an article, that claimed the U.S. and U.K. struck the Houthis in retaliation for a drone strike that killed three American soldiers on Jan. 28.

“Houthi rebels vow ‘response and punishment’ after U.S. and U.K. launch retaliatory airstrikes against the Iran-backed militia. The strikes were in response to a drone attack that left three Americans dead,” the caption reads. The video further claims that the Houthis were struck by the U.S. in Iraq and Syria as well.

These claims are false. The U.S. and U.K. did not launch the airstrikes in response to a drone attack that killed three American soldiers. The airstrikes were launched against the Houthis for the group’s attacks against ships in the Red Sea, according to the U.K. Ministry of Defense.

“On 3 February, Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4s, supported by Voyager tankers, joined US forces in further deliberate strikes against Houthi locations in Yemen involved in their campaign targeting shipping in the Bab al Mandab and southern Red Sea,” reads the statement from the ministry.

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) also released a statement about the strikes, saying they were meant to “degrade Houthi capabilities…” and did not mention anything about the Jan. 28 drone strike. (RELATED: Houthi Rebels Claim To Hit U.S. Warship In Red Sea)

“These strikes are intended to degrade Houthi capabilities used to continue their reckless and unlawful attacks on U.S. and U.K. ships as well as international commercial shipping in the Red Sea, Bab Al-Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Aden. These strikes are separate and distinct from the multinational freedom of navigation actions performed under Operation Prosperity Guardian,” the statement reads.

The strikes in Iraq and Syria were against the IRGC and the Iranian-backed militias, not the Houthis, according to CENTCOM. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin released a statement about the strikes, saying they were conducted against the IRGC and Iranian-backed militias. (RELATED: Can The US Not Produce Missiles Anymore?)

“Following the attack on U.S. and Coalition Forces in northeastern Jordan this past Sunday that killed three U.S. service members, at President Biden’s direction, U.S. military forces today conducted strikes on seven facilities, which included more than 85 targets in Iraq and Syria, that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and affiliated militias use to attack U.S. force,” Austin said in his statement.

USA Today deleted the videos posted on social media after a Check Your Fact inquiry, but the incorrect information still remains in the article as of publishing time.

A CENTCOM spokesperson told Check Your Fact in an email that “the Houthis are an Iranian supported organization located in Yemen – not Syria and Iraq.”

“[T]he US did conduct a strike on a high-level Kitab Hezbollah (Iranian affiliated and supported militia group active in Iraq and Syria) asset in answer to his direct involvement in the planning and execution of their attacks on US/Coalition forces in the region (not just on T22 in Jordan that killed three US soldiers),” the spokesperson added.

Check Your Fact reached out to USA Today and the Department of Defense for comment.

Update 2/14/2024: This article has been updated with a response from CENTCOM. 

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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