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US investigating after drone crashed in Yemen, officials say

<i>Isaac Brekken/Getty Images/File</i><br/>In this 2015 file photo
Isaac Brekken/Getty Images/File
In this 2015 file photo

By Natasha Bertrand and Haley Britzky, CNN

(CNN) — The US is investigating after an unmanned US drone crashed near Hodeidah in Yemen early Monday morning, two US officials told CNN.

It’s unclear if the Air Force MQ-9 Reaper, an unmanned drone primarily used for intelligence collection, simply crashed or was shot down. A spokesperson for the Iran-backed Houthi forces said in a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter, that the drone was shot down “with a suitable missile.”

It wouldn’t be the first time the militant group was able to shoot down a US drone. The Houthis previously shot down a MQ-9 Reaper in November off the coast of Yemen.

The US has continued its strikes against the Houthis inside Yemen for the group’s ongoing attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea. On Saturday, the US conducted five self-defense strikes on three mobile anti-ship cruise missiles, one unmanned surface vessel, and one unmanned underwater vessel in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, US Central Command said.

The missiles and unmanned vessels were determined to present “an imminent threat to US Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region,” CENTCOM said in a post on X.

The news of the MQ-9 crash comes as cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden was abandoned by its crew following an attack by the Houthis. The Houthi spokesperson, Yahya Saree, said on X that the attack on the Belize-flagged, UK-registered and Lebanese-operated cargo ship was a retaliation against “American-British aggression” in Yemen.

A CENTCOM post on X later on Monday said that the bulk carrier, the MV Rubymar, was damaged after two anti-ship ballistic missiles were launched from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. One of the missiles struck the ship, CENTCOM said. The Rubymar issued a distress call and a “coalition warship along with another merchant vessel responded,” assisting the crew of the carrier.

“The crew was transported to a nearby port by the merchant vessel,” the CENTCOM post said.

The US and UK have carried out a number of joint strikes in Yemen, vowing to continue if the Houthis do not cease their attacks.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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