US warship shoots down drone launched by Yemen's Houthis amid Israel war
An American warship shot down a drone Wednesday that was heading toward it from Yemen, the US military said, with the Iran-backed Houthi rebels saying they launched the aircraft and warning of a response.
The Houthis are opposed to government forces in Yemen and are also part of the "axis of resistance" of groups arrayed against Israel, who has waged indiscriminate and ruthless bombing in Gaza, that has triggered a surge in attacks on American forces in the region.
"On November 15th and while transiting the international waters of the Red Sea, the crew of the USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116) engaged a drone that originated from Yemen and was heading in the direction of the ship," the US Defense Department said in a statement, referring to a guided missile destroyer.
"The Hudner's crew engaged and shot down the drone to ensure the safety of US personnel. There were no US casualties or any damage to the ship," the statement added.
Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a member of the Houthis' Supreme Political Council, said on social media that the aircraft belonged to the group and that it "will reserve the right to respond to the destruction of its drone."
The incident comes after the US Navy shot down multiple missiles and drones last month that it said were fired by the Houthis, who seized Yemeni capital Sanaa in 2014 and control much of country.
The drone shootdown is related to Israel's military onslaught in Gaza, which has killed at least 11,500 Palestinians, all while placing the territory under a complete siege which has cut off water, fuel and food supplies.
Israel's actions in Gaza have provoked widespread anger in the Middle East and provided an impetus for attacks against American troops in the region as well as Israel by armed groups opposed to both.
The Houthis said last week that they shot down an MQ-9 drone that was spying as part of Washington's support for Israel, while American forces in Iraq and Syria have faced dozens of rocket and drone attacks in recent weeks that US officials have blamed on Iran-backed groups.
US forces have carried out strikes on sites in Syria the Pentagon said were linked to Iran on three separate occasions in recent weeks, but the attacks on American forces have continued.