US Drone Shot Down over Yemen

Wednesday, 21 August, 2019 - 18:15
Asharq Al-Awsat

A US military MQ-9 drone was shot down in Yemen’s Dhamar governate, southeast of the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa, two US officials told Reuters on Wednesday, the second such incident in recent months.

The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the drone was shot down late on Tuesday.

This is not the first time a US drone has been shot down in Yemen. In June, the US military said that Houthis had shot down a US government-operated drone with assistance from Iran.

US forces have occasionally launched drone and air strikes against Yemen’s al-Qaeda branch, known as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

The group has taken advantage of a four-year-old war in Yemen to try to strengthen its position in the country.

One of the officials said that it appeared that the armed military drone, made by California-based General Atomics, had been shot down by a surface-to-air missile operated by the Iran-aligned Houthi militias.

“It appears to have been fired by the Houthis and enabled by Iran,” the official said, without providing details or specific evidence.

The official said that while losing a drone was expensive, it was not unprecedented and it was unlikely to lead to any major response by the United States.

The other official cautioned that it was too early to tell who was responsible for the incident.

In a statement, the US military said it was investigating reports that a drone had been attacked “in authorized airspace over Yemen.”

“We have been clear that Iran’s provocative actions and support to militants and proxies, like the Iranian-backed Houthis, poses a serious threat to stability in the region and our partners,” the US military’s Central Command said.

The White House said it was aware of the reports and President Donald Trump had been briefed on the matter.

“This attack is only possible because of Iran’s lethal aid to the Houthis and serves as yet another example of the regime’s relentless efforts to escalate conflict and threaten regional stability,” National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis said.

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