WASHINGTON — An American military drone was shot down on Tuesday in Yemen, southeast of the capital, Sana, officials said Wednesday, in the second such episode this summer.
Iranian-backed Houthi forces claimed credit for the downing of the unmanned drone, an MQ-9 Reaper.
In a statement on Wednesday, the United States Central Command said it was investigating the incident, which it said occurred in “authorized airspace over Yemen.”
“We have been clear that Iran’s provocative actions and support to proxy forces, like the Iranian-backed Houthis, poses a serious threat to stability in the region and our partners,” Lt. Col. Earl Brown, a Central Command spokesman, said in the statement.
The Associated Press reported that Yahia Sarie, a military spokesman for the Houthis, said in a statement that Houthi air defenses downed an American drone on Tuesday over the city of Dhamar. He said the drone was hit by a missile.
The Pentagon acknowledgment of the lost drone comes as Human Rights Watch reported that the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting in Yemen carried out at least five deadly attacks on Yemeni fishing boats in 2018, killing at least 47 Yemeni fishermen, including seven children.
The shooting down of the drone also comes as Saudi Arabia is dealing with the pullout of its partner in the Yemen campaign, the United Arab Emirates, which announced a steep drawdown of troops last month.
The Saudis and Emiratis began their joint war in Yemen in spring 2015, seeking to overturn a takeover by the Houthis, who are backed by Iran. Four years later, the fighting has settled into a stalemate, with the Houthis in control of the capital, Sana, and the country on the brink of famine.