A U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone was shot down off the coast of Yemen on Wednesday, a defense official confirmed to CBS News. The official said the drone was operating in international airspace over international waters.
U.S. Central Command is assessing the incident, the official said.
A spokesperson for the Houthis in Yemen claimed on X that air defenses brought down the drone.
MQ-9s are used primarily for collecting intelligence but can also conduct strikes against targets.
This is the latest incident in what threatens to turn theinto a larger conflict. Last week, the Iranian-backed Houthis announced they launched missile and drone attacks against Israel.
Those attacks follow an incident last month in which a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Red Sea shot down missiles from Yemen that were potentially headed toward Israel.
The Houthis took control of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, in 2014, launching a years-long devastating civil war against the internationally recognized government of Yemen.
The Houthis have shot down MQ-9s before, most recently in 2019. Each MQ-9 costs about $30 million, according to a Congressional Research Service report released last year.
The Pentagon acknowledged last week it was flying MQ-9s over Gaza in order to gather intelligence to help withefforts.