Houthi rebels claim downing of second US drone amid Yemen conflict and regional tensions

 21. 05. 2024      Category: Air force

In a stark escalation of ongoing hostilities in Yemen, Iran-backed Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for shooting down a second American drone within a week. The U.S. military has acknowledged reports of the incident but has refrained from providing detailed comments.

On Tuesday, the Houthis announced they had downed an American MQ-9 Reaper drone over Yemen. This follows a similar claim made last Friday when the rebels reported downing another U.S. drone over the Marib province. The recent incidents highlight the persistent threat posed by the Houthis to U.S. military assets in the region.

Details of the Drone Downing

The Houthi military spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, stated that the drone was shot down with a locally made surface-to-air missile while it was allegedly conducting hostile operations over Yemen’s southern province of Bayda. Video footage released by the Houthis purportedly shows the attack, which is said to have occurred on Sunday. The U.S. Central Command has confirmed receiving reports of the downing but has not elaborated further.

The MQ-9 Reaper drones, valued at approximately $30 million each, are sophisticated unmanned aerial vehicles capable of flying at altitudes up to 50,000 feet and can remain airborne for up to 24 hours. These drones are crucial for surveillance and strike missions, and their loss underscores the significant challenges faced by the U.S. in maintaining its operations in the volatile region.

Context of the Yemen Conflict

Yemen has been embroiled in a brutal civil war since 2014, when the Houthi rebels seized control of the country’s northern regions, including the capital, Sanaa. The conflict has drawn in regional powers, with Iran supporting the Houthis and a Saudi-led coalition backing the Yemeni government. The U.S. has been involved in the conflict, primarily through drone operations targeting terrorist groups and supporting the coalition forces.

Since the outbreak of the civil war, the Houthis have managed to down at least five U.S. drones. These incidents have become part of a broader pattern of escalating tensions and military engagements in the region.

Broader Implications and Regional Tensions

The downing of the drones occurs against the backdrop of heightened regional tensions, particularly concerning the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. The Houthis have been vocal in their opposition to Israel’s military actions in Gaza, which have resulted in significant Palestinian casualties. Since the conflict began in October, with Hamas-led militants attacking Israel, the Houthis have intensified their military activities in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

In recent months, the Houthis have carried out over 50 attacks on shipping vessels, seizing one and sinking another, in protest against Israel’s actions. These attacks have severely impacted shipping routes through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, prompting concerns over maritime security and international trade.

Recent Missile Attacks

Last week, the Houthis claimed to have fired a missile at a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Red Sea. The U.S. military confirmed that the warship successfully intercepted the missile, averting potential damage and casualties. This incident further exemplifies the growing threat posed by the Houthis to U.S. military and commercial interests in the region.


The downing of the second MQ-9 Reaper drone by the Houthis highlights the persistent and escalating threat in Yemen and the broader region. The Houthis' increasing military capabilities, supported by Iran, pose significant challenges to U.S. operations and regional stability. As the conflict in Gaza continues to influence regional dynamics, the situation in Yemen remains a critical flashpoint with far-reaching implications for international security and geopolitical stability.

 Author: Lucas Kingsley