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Houthi Rebels in Yemen Claim Responsibility for Shooting Down US Reaper Drone and Release Video of Wreckage

JERUSALEM—Yemen’s Houthi terrorists claimed on Saturday that they had shot down another one of the U.S. military’s MQ-9 Reaper drones. They aired footage showing parts that matched known pieces of the unmanned aircraft.

The Houthis stated that they used a surface-to-air missile to bring down the Reaper as part of an intensified series of attacks this week, following a period of relative calm during the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Bryon J. McGarry, a Defense Department spokesperson, confirmed to The Associated Press on Saturday that “a U.S. Air Force MQ-9 drone crashed in Yemen.” He mentioned that an investigation was underway but did not provide further details.

The Houthis reported that the drone was shot down on Thursday above their stronghold in Saada province, Yemen.

Footage released by the Houthis included a missile launch targeting the drone, along with a man off-camera reciting the group’s slogan after the drone was hit: “God is the greatest; death to America; death to Israel; curse the Jews; victory to Islam.”

The footage also showed close-ups of parts of the drone that bore the logo of General Atomics, the drone manufacturer, and serial numbers matching known components made by the company.

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Since the Houthis took control of northern Yemen and its capital Sanaa in 2014, the U.S. military has lost a total of five drones to the rebels, including Thursday’s incident in 2017, 2019, 2023, and this year.

Reaper drones, each costing around $30 million, are capable of flying at altitudes up to 50,000 feet and have a maximum endurance of 24 hours before needing to land.

The drone shootdown occurred as the Houthis carried out attacks on ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, demanding an end to the Gaza conflict which has resulted in the deaths of over 34,000 Palestinians. The conflict began when Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on October 7, resulting in 1,200 casualties and around 250 people being taken hostage.

According to the U.S. Maritime Administration, the Houthis have conducted over 50 attacks on shipping, capturing one vessel and sinking another since November.

Recent weeks have seen a decrease in Houthi attacks as they come under fire from a U.S.-led airstrike campaign in Yemen, leading to a reduction in shipping through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden due to the associated threats. American officials believe that the rebels may be running low on weapons due to the ongoing campaign against them. However, the rebels have resumed their attacks in the past week.

By Jon Gambrell

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