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The U.S. military said its forces destroyed eight aerial drones late Wednesday in areas of Yemen controlled by the Houthi militant group.

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement the drones “presented an imminent threat to U.S., coalition, and merchant vessels in the region.”

CENTCOM also reported destroying three other Houthi drones early Wednesday, including two that were over the Gulf of Aden and one over the Red Sea.

The United States is leading a coalition effort to help protect the key shipping route through the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea from attacks by the Iran-backed Houthis.

The Houthis, designated by the U.S. as a terror group, have said their campaign targeting ships is in solidarity with the Palestinians amid the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.