The US on Sunday accused Iran and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels of firing surface-to-air missiles at American Reaper drones twice over the past week, confirming earlier reports that the Houthis brought down one of the US drones over Yemen on June 6.
Houthi social media accounts posted video and photos last week showing what they claimed were images of the downed Reaper. The shootdown, and another attempted shootdown by what the US claims were Iranian forces, represent a significant escalation in tensions in the Gulf region after weeks of rhetoric by US and Iranian officials, sparking fears over the countries stumbling into a military confrontation.
The incidents, according to a CENTCOM statement, were undertaken by Iran, or “enabled” by the regime.
The June 6 downing was the result of the Houthis firing a Russian-made SA-6 ground-to-air missile which “indicated an improvement over previous Houthi capability,” according to CENTCOM.
Is the US providing intelligence to Saudi Arabia?
What role are the US drones playing in all of this, especially in providing intelligence for the coalition air strikes which have killed hundreds of civilians? Saudi Arabia’s recent Faj Attan air strike in Sana’a targeted an apartment block leaving 12 dead, including six children; as with other attacks, this has been described as a possible war crime.
AQAP and other “terrorist networks” are not located in the Yemeni capital, so why was the MQ-9 drone over the city? The US is officially providing “non-combat advisory and coordinating” support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, Rankine-Galloway confirmed to MEMO. The US Department of Defence is also providing “refuelling support to Coalition aircraft and intelligence support to assist Saudi Arabia in preventing cross-border attacks,” he added.
The absence of AQAP in Houthi-controlled areas is well-known, said Yemen-based journalist Hussain Albukhaiti. “The number of US drones over Sana’a has increased since the war started, which means that their job is to collect information and pictures as well as to coordinate for the Saudi led coalition,” he claimed.