• Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels claimed they shot down an American MQ-9 Reaper drone.
  • The U.S. military did not immediately acknowledge the claim, but if confirmed, this would be the second MQ-9 Reaper brought down by the Houthis in a week.
  • The Houthis have also stepped up attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, demanding Israel ends the war in Gaza. The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping in total.

The Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed on Tuesday they shot down an American drone over the impoverished Arab country. The U.S. military did not immediately acknowledge the claim.

If confirmed, this would be the second MQ-9 Reaper drone downed by the Houthis over the past week as they press their campaign over the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.

Last Friday, the Houthis claimed downing an American drone over the province of Marib, hours after footage circulated online of what appeared to be the wreckage of an MQ-9 Reaper. And early Saturday, a vessel also came under attack in the Red Sea.

LIKELY MISSILE ATTACK BY YEMEN’S HOUTHI REBELS DAMAGES A SHIP IN THE RED SEA

Houthi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree said Tuesday the drone was shot down with a locally made surface-to-air missile. He did not say when it took place but alleged the drone “was carrying out hostile missions” over Yemen’s southern province of Bayda.

The U.S. Mideast-based Central Command did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press regarding the incident.

Houthi supporters sit in front of a giant Palestinian flag during a rally against the U.S.-led strikes against Yemen and in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip

Houthi supporters sit in front of a giant Palestinian flag during a rally against the U.S.-led strikes against Yemen and in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in Sanaa, Yemen, on May 17, 2024. Houthi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree said on May 20, 2024, that the Iran-backed rebels shot down an American drone. (AP Photo/Osamah Abdulrahman)

Since Yemen’s civil war started in 2014, when the Houthis seized most of the country’s north and its capital of Sanaa, the U.S. military has lost at least five drones to the rebels.

Reapers, which cost around $30 million apiece, can fly at altitudes up to 50,000 feet and have an endurance of up to 24 hours before needing to land.

The Houthis have also stepped up attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, demanding Israel ends the war in Gaza, which has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians there. The war began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking some 250 hostage.

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The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, seized one vessel and sunk another since November, according to the U.S. Maritime Administration.

Shipping through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden has declined because of the threat.

The rebels claimed last week that they fired a missile towards a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Red Sea. However, the U.S. military said the warship intercepted the anti-ship ballistic missile.

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