Belgium will send a warship to join a European mission in the Red Sea to counter attacks from Iran-backed Houthi rebels targeting commercial vessels, it announced at a Foreign Affairs Council briefing today.

The frigate Louise-Marie is equipped with 16 anti-missile Sea Sparrow missiles.

Since November, ships sailing via the Red Sea have been targeted by Houthi missiles and drones, in what the rebels say is an effort to aid Hamas in its war with Israel.

American and British navies carried out airstrikes against Houthi targets in Yemen throughout January to deter further attacks.

Hadja Lahbib, Belgium’s foreign minister, has been pushing for Belgian participation in the international Red Sea coalition, but left-wing parties in the federal coalition were reluctant to approve.