US drone shot down over Yemen

The US has confirmed one of its Reaper combat drones was shot down in western Yemen on Sunday October 1.

US Central Command (Centcom) told the Bureau the incident was under investigation.

The attack near Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, was first reported by Yemen’s state news agency SABA, which is under the control of the Houthi militia.

The Houthis, who are allied to Iran, seized control of much of the country in late 2014. Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition of Arab countries in a military intervention to roll them back, to which the US gives intelligence support.

The civil war has killed 10,000 people, displaced 3 million and resulted in a cholera epidemic which is reported to have infected 750,000 Yemenis.

It is not yet known whether the weapon that brought down the drone was a remnant of Yemen’s air defence system which included Russian supplied long-range Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs) or was supplied to the Houthis by Iran. Most of the SAMs were reported to have been destroyed in deliberate targeting by Saudi Coalition airstrikes at the start of the campaign.

The US uses Reapers in Yemen both for intelligence gathering and missile strikes. The US has carried out more than 100 strikes by drones as well as manned jets in Yemen this year, according to the latest data provided to the Bureau by Centcom in mid-September, surpassing the total number of strikes for the previous four years combined.

In March, the US declared parts of three provinces in Yemen "areas of active hostilities" paving the way for additional strikes and raids. An unprecedented number of strikes rained down on the country that month and during the following one.

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