The Pentagon has confirmed that an MQ-9 Reaper drone was shot down over Western Yemen on Sunday. This area has been wracked by a civil war between the Saudi Arabian-backed government and Houthi insurgents who are proxies for Iran.
Different videos have surfaced purportedly to show the drone being shot down by air defense missiles of the Houthi rebels.The three-year civil war has been dragged to a stalemate in recent months.
The Pentagon has launched an investigation into the incident, Marine Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a Defense Department spokesman, said Monday. He declined to provide additional information, including who had shot down the aircraft or what mission the drone was supporting at the time.
The MQ-9 is an armed, multi-mission drone that is typically used by the Air Force to conduct airstrikes. It is also used for surveillance and reconnaissance operations.
The United States provides support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, including in-air refueling operations and intelligence-sharing to back its war with the Houthis. Rankine-Galloway declined to say whether the United States flies drones in Yemen to collect intelligence on the Houthis. It does fly MQ-9s in Yemen to target al-Qaida fighters, who have taken advantage of the civil war to capture territory to train militants and plan terrorist operations, he said.
Yemen is in the middle of near starvation for their 26 million people and disease including a widespread cholera outbreak, according to humanitarian groups. Over 10,000 people have been killed and 3 million are now homeless.
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