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US prepares new force to protect Red Sea ships after Houthi attacks

US defense secretary Lloyd Austin has said he would convene an international meeting on a spate of recent Houthi attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea.

Austin is expected to announce a new maritime task force to address the increased threat posed by the Houthis while travelling in the Middle East this week.

“We’re taking action to build an international coalition to address this threat,” Austin said on Monday.

He did not offer more details but US officials have said they are looking at ways to expand an existing 39-member international task force in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

“We’re doing everything that we can to ensure freedom of navigation in the area”, Austin added.