The ship attacked by Yemen's Houthi rebels was full of grain bound for Iran, the group's main benefactor

Dubai, United Arab Emirates — A Greek-flagged bulk carrier attacked by Yemen's Houthi rebels earlier this week was carrying a cargo of grain bound for Iran, the group's main benefactor, authorities said Thursday.

The attack on the Laax comes as the Houthis continue their attacks on shipping through the Red Sea corridor, part of a campaign they say is aimed at pressuring Israel and the West over the war in Gaza. But with shipping through that artery dwindling during months of attacks, the rebels have hit ships linked to Iran as well as the economic lifelines of Tehran, China and Russia.

Initially, the Laax had specified Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates as its destination after the attack. However, on Thursday the listed destination appeared to be Bandar Khomeini, Iran.

A statement from UAE-based French naval forces patrolling the Middle East also indicated that the ship's grain shipment was headed to Iran. It said a team from Djibouti had inspected the damage caused by the attack, which involved both drones and missiles, and found no remaining dangerous explosives on board the ship.

Images released by the French Navy showed damage to both the ship's waterline and its deck.

In Tuesday's attack, five rockets hit the Laax during the hours-long attack, private security firm LSS-SAPU told The Associated Press. LSS-SAPU, which previously helped evacuate sailors from the Houthi-attacked Rubymar that was later sunk, said there had been no prior radio warning from the Houthis.

LSS-SAPU had three armed security guards on board the Laax at the time of the attack. The ship's crew included 13 Filipinos and one Ukrainian, the Philippine Department of Migrant Workers said in a statement.

The Houthis have stepped up attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden in recent months and are demanding that Israel end the war in Gaza, which has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians there. The war began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking about 250 hostage.

The Houthis have carried out more than 50 attacks on shipping since November, killing three sailors, seizing one ship and sinking another, according to the U.S. Maritime Administration.

On Wednesday, another US MQ-9 Reaper drone apparently crashed in Yemen, with the Houthis claiming they fired a surface-to-air missile at it. The US Air Force has not reported any missing aircraft, raising suspicions that the drone may have been controlled by the CIA. No fewer than three have been lost this month alone.

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