The leader of Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, has announced the expansion of the attack zone of "Israel-linked ships." He warned that the Houthis would not allow vessels to pass through the Indian Ocean towards the Cape of Good Hope.

"This is a major step and we have begun to implement our operations related to it," he said.

The Iran-aligned group has been attacking ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November to show solidarity with Palestinians during Israel's war with Hamas in Gaza.

The Financial Times reported, citing sources in the US and Iran, that in January, the United States held secret talks with Iran to halt attacks on ships in the Red Sea. The second round of negotiations, initially scheduled for February, was postponed due to the administration's focus on a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas.