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US drone shot down by Iran-backed rebels: reports

A MQ-9 Reaper US military unmanned aerial vehicle prepares to land after a mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The Reaper has the ability to carry both precision-guided bombs and air-to-ground missiles. (Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson/Air Force)
August 21, 2019

A drone belonging to the United States was shot down over Yemen late Tuesday, according to new reports.

A surface-to-air missile shot by Houthi rebels took down the U.S. MQ-9 drone over Dhamar governate in Yemen, south of the Houthi-controlled Yemen capital of Sanaa, two U.S. officials told Reuters, who first reported the incident early Wednesday.

The officials said the U.S. believes the missile was one supplied by Iran.

One official also indicated that President Trump may make public remarks on Iran today, according to CNN.

A spokesperson for the Houthi rebels confirmed via the group’s Al-Masirah TV that they were responsible for shooting down the U.S. drone, but claimed that the missile was “developed locally” and shot by its air defenses.

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“The air defense systems managed to shoot down an American MQ-9 aircraft with a missile in the skies above Dhamar, it struck its target accurately,” he said, according to a translation by business intelligence firm Flashpoint, as reported by NBC News.

AnsarAllah Media Center, the Houthi rebel-backed media outlet in Yemen, posted a video of a drone flying overhead followed by an explosion and footage of the wreckage. It’s unclear if this is, in fact, the MQ-9 that was shot down.

It is the second time this summer that a Houthi missile – presumably supplied by Iran – has shot down a U.S. drone.

Another U.S. Navy MQ-9 drone was successfully shot down over the Red Sea by Houthi rebels on June 6.

AnsarAllah Media Center also posted photos after the incident, claiming that they showed the mangled wreckage of a U.S. MQ-9.

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Days later, Iran attempted to shoot down an MQ-9 with a surface-to-air missile, but failed and the missile landed in the ocean.

Iran’s next attempt at shooting down a U.S. drone was successful, however.

On June 20, Iran fired a missile at a U.S. RQ-4A Global Hawk drone and took it down, claiming the drone was violating Iranian airspace.

Iran said it could’ve targeted a nearby U.S. Navy P-8 aircraft, but spared it, deciding to shoot the drone down as a “message” to the U.S.