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    Yemen’s Houthi Rebels Claim Downing of US MQ-9 Reaper Drone amid Escalating Tensions

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    Yemen’s Houthi insurgents have declared that they shot down a US MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Marib province, adding to the already tense atmosphere and ongoing violence in the region.

    Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, a military representative for the Houthi forces, confirmed the incident, which was captured in footage circulating on social media purportedly showing a surface-to-air missile strike.

    The video displayed what seemed to be the aftermath of the attack, with the charred remains of the high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle visible.

    The rebels have attributed the drone’s presence to “carrying out hostile actions” and have broadcast their slogan alongside the claim: “God is the greatest; death to America; death to Israel; curse the Jews; victory to Islam.”

    This rhetoric underscores the deeply entrenched ideological motivations fueling the Houthis’ actions, which have been further exacerbated by the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

    To date, the US military has not issued a public response to the Houthis’ claims, which, if true, would add to a series of similar incidents where American drones have been lost to the rebel group.

    With the support of Iran, the Houthis have previously demonstrated the capability to engage high-value aerial assets, a worrying trend for US military operations in the region.

    The MQ-9 Reaper, valued at around $30 million per unit, is a crucial asset in the United States’ intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations.

    Its loss would not only be a financial blow but also a strategic setback, given its advanced technology and the critical data it collects.

    This incident dovetails with other aggressive activities attributed to the Houthis, including over 50 attacks on maritime targets in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. These operations are part of a broader campaign to pressure Israel to cease its military engagement in Gaza, which has resulted in significant casualties.

    Since November, the Houthis have reportedly seized and sunk multiple vessels, demonstrating their expanding capability to disrupt vital international shipping lanes.

    The most recent maritime incident reported involved a Panama-flagged crude oil tanker, which was said to have sustained slight damage from an “unknown object.”

    Security firm Ambrey suggested a missile strike caused a fire on the ship, but, as in the case of the drone downing, the Houthis have not immediately acknowledged the attack.

    These developments follow a pattern of heightened Houthi aggression even as the group faces a US-led airstrike campaign within Yemen.

    The persistent threat posed by the Houthis has kept shipping through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden at subdued levels, reflecting the broad impact of the conflict on international trade and security.

    Relevant articles:
    – Houthi rebels claim shooting down another U.S. drone , Spectrum News, 05/19/2024
    – Yemen’s Houthi rebels claim shooting down another US MQ-9 Reaper drone as footage shows wreckage, The Associated Press, 05/18/2024
    – Israel-Gaza war: Yemen’s Houthi rebels claim to shoot down another US MQ-9 Predator drone as footage shows wreckage, South China Morning Post, 05/17/2024
    – Watch: Yemen’s Houthi rebels claim shooting down another US MQ, The Times of India, 05/18/2024
    – Yemen’s Houthi rebels claim shooting down another US MQ-9 Reaper drone as footage shows wreckage, Yahoo News Australia, 05/18/2024

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