BERLIN, February 8. /TASS/. European Union countries have hammered out the details of the Aspides (Shields) military operation meant to ensure the security of commercial shipping in the Red Sea, the DPA news agency reported citing diplomatic sources.
According to the agency, the official decision to launch the operation will be adopted at a meeting of foreign ministers on February 19 in Brussels. The decision adopted on Thursday laid out how the operation will be conducted and the location of its headquarters, which will be set up in the Greek city of Larissa.
The EU's operational plan envisages sending European warships to the region to protect cargo ships from attacks by Yemen's Houthi rebels. The Hessen frigate will take part in the operation from the Bundeswehr, the ship left the port of Wilhelmshaven to the Red Sea region on February 8. It has approximately 250 military personnel on board.
EU High Representative Josep Borrell said at a press conference following a meeting of EU defense ministers in Brussels that the association's member states had agreed to launch their own mission to protect merchant ships in the Red Sea, called Aspides, starting on February 19.
With the conflict in the Gaza Strip escalating, the Ansar Allah (Houthi) movement announced that it would conduct strikes on Israeli territory and block pro-Israeli vessels from passing through the waters of the Red Sea and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait until Tel Aviv ceases its military operation in the Palestinian enclave. The Houthis have attacked dozens of civilian vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since mid-November of last year.