A US military drone was shot down while operating over the coast of Yemen on Wednesday, unnamed officials told multiple media outlets, pinning the strike on a Houthi militia. The armed group had previously vowed drone and rocket attacks against Israel amid continued fighting in Gaza.
The MQ-9 Reaper drone was downed in international airspace, officials said, noting that US Central Command is now investigating the incident.
“We can confirm that a US military MQ-9 remotely-piloted aircraft was shot down off the coast of Yemen by Houthi forces,” a Pentagon official told ABC News.
The group also shared footage, which they claim showed the strike, where an air defense missile is seen hitting an aircraft and erupting into flames.
Earlier on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Houthis, a group which has maintained de facto rule over part of Yemen since 2014, said the drone was hit “while carrying out hostile, monitoring, and spying operations in Yemeni territorial waters along with the US military support to the Israeli entity.”
“Hostile acts won’t deter the Yemeni armed forces from continuing to conduct military operations against [the] Israeli entity in solidarity with the oppression of Palestinian nation,” the spokesman added.
Late last month, Houthi officials confirmed they had launched several drone and missile strikes on Israel as a show of support for Palestinians in Gaza, and went on to pledge additional attacks.
The US military previously said it had shot down projectiles headed towards Israel over the Red Sea, with a US Navy destroyer reportedly intercepting cruise missiles and drones launched by Houthi forces in October.
US officials have also confirmed a series of “unarmed” surveillance drone flights over Gaza since the deadly October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, but maintained that operations were meant to locate hostages taken by the Palestinian militant group.