EU launches naval mission to protect Red Sea shipping

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(VOVWORLD) - The European Union launched on Monday a naval mission to the Red Sea to restore and safeguard freedom of navigation there, according to a statement.

The defensive maritime security operation, dubbed Eunavfor Aspides, comes after Houthi militants started attacking international shipping in the Red Sea in support of Palestinian militant group Hamas in its conflict with Israel.

The EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the EU is responding swiftly to the necessity to restore maritime security and freedom of navigation in a highly strategic maritime corridor. Within its defensive mandate, the operation will provide maritime situational awareness, accompany vessels, and protect them against possible multi-domain attacks at sea, the statement added.

The statement did not specify how many vessels would be involved. But EU diplomats previously told Reuters it would initially involve three vessels under EU command as part of the EU's so-called Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP).