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  • Writer's pictureDahlia Foundation

US Drone That Crashed In Yemen Appears To Have Been Shot Down By Houthis


An American MQ-9 Reaper drone crashed off the coast of Yemen after apparently being struck by a missile fired by Iran-backed Houthi rebels, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

It is the second time an MQ-9 -- which can be used for both surveillance and strikes -- was lost near Yemen in recent months, with US officials confirming last year that another was downed by the Houthis.

The apparent shoot-down came the same day that the rebels targeted two US-owned merchant vessels as they continue their multi-month campaign of attacks on shipping in the area.

"On February 19, a US MQ-9 was downed or went down off the coast of Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen, in the Red Sea," Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told journalists.

"Initial indications are that it was shot down by a Houthi surface-to-air missile," Singh said.

The Houthis -- who are opposed to government forces in Yemen and are also part of the "axis of resistance" of groups arrayed against Israel -- said they shot down an MQ-9 in November 2023, while the United States assessed that another was downed by the rebels in 2019.

Earlier on Tuesday, the military's Central Command said US and coalition aircraft and warships shot down 10 one-way attack drones in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden between 8:00 pm on Monday and 12:30 am the following day.

- US-owned ships targeted -

The French defense ministry said Tuesday that the country's navy had destroyed two drones over the Red Sea during the night, but it was not immediately clear if they were included in the CENTCOM figures.

The US military command also said an American destroyer shot down an anti-ship cruise missile that was "headed in its direction" early on Tuesday, while US forces destroyed a drone and a missile launcher in Yemen the day before.

On Monday, two anti-ship ballistic missiles caused minor damage to the M/V Sea Champion -- a US-owned, Greek-flagged grain ship -- while a drone hit the M/V Navis Fortuna, a US-owned, Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier, CENTCOM said.

The Houthis had said in a statement Monday that they had targeted "two American ships in the Gulf of Aden. The first was 'Sea Champion' and the other was 'Navis Fortuna.'"

The Houthis began attacking Red Sea shipping in November, saying they were hitting Israel-linked vessels in support of Palestinians in Gaza, which has been ravaged by the Israel-Hamas war.

US and UK forces responded with strikes against the Houthis, who have since declared American and British interests to be legitimate targets as well.

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