A United States (US) military surveillance drone was shot down off the coast of Yemen by Houthi rebels, media reports have confirmed, citing Pentagon officials and the Iran-backed group.
The MQ-9 Reaper, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) primarily used by the United States Air Force (USAF), is known for its long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance capabilities and is often referred to as the first “hunter-killer” UAV.
While Houthi rebels have previously shot down US drones, the recent incident occurred at a time when tensions are high in the Middle East due to the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Yemen’s Houthis joined the Israel-Hamas conflict, which is raging more than 1,000 miles from their capital city of Sanaa, on October 31, 2023, by launching missiles and drones at Israel and threatening further attacks.
Previously, on October 19, 2023, a US Navy cruiser in the northern Red Sea downed four cruise missiles and 14 drones launched from Yemen, which the Pentagon said were en route to Israel.
In a statement on November 8, 2023, Houthi rebels claimed that a remotely piloted MQ-9 Reaper was spying on them as part of US assistance to Israel in the ongoing war.
“Hostile activities will not prevent us from continuing to carry out military operations against Israeli targets,” Houthi spokesperson Yehya Sarea said in a statement aired on the group’s al-Masirah TV.
Meanwhile the same day, the US launched an airstrike on a weapons storage facility in eastern Syria used by militias backed by Iran in response to an increasing number of attacks on sites that house US personnel in the area over the past several weeks.