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Three US MQ-9 Reaper drones, worth around $30 million each, have crashed in Yemen since November

A US MQ-9 Reaper drone crashed this week off the coast of Yemen, likely shot down by Houthi rebels, according to a US official. The cause is still under investigation.

The Iran-backed Houthis have shot down two more MQ-9s since November, the first in early November and then another in February. Each drone costs about $30 million, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Drones flying off the coast of Yemen are part of the U.S. military’s efforts to help defend commercial and military vessels from continued attacks by the Houthis.

File: An MQ-9 Reaper drone flies overhead during a training mission at Creech Air Force Base Nov. 17, 2015, in Indian Springs, Nevada.

Isaac Brekken/Getty Images


Since the outbreak of Israel’s war against Hamas, the Houthis attacked or threatened more than 100 commercial or military vessels in the Red Sea or Gulf of Aden. The Houthis say their attacks are a protest against Israel’s war against Hamas and against U.S. support for Israel, but U.S. officials emphasize that many of the ships targeted by the group have no connection to Israel.

As a countermeasure, the United States and the United Kingdom, with the support of other countries, conducted four rounds of negotiations. of joint airstrikes to destroy Houthi capabilities in Yemen. Additionally, the U.S. military regularly conducts self-defense strikes against Houthi missiles and drones when it sees the Houthis preparing for an attack.

The United States also launched a defensive maritime operation, dubbed Operation Prosperity Guardian, with more than 20 partner nations to defend commercial shipping against Houthi attacks.

So far, only one Houthi attack has resulted in deaths. In March, an attack on the Liberian merchant ship True Confidence killed two crew members.

The pace of attacks has slowed in recent weeks, but attacks continue, including on Thursday when the Houthis launched an anti-ship ballistic missile into the Gulf of Aden. The US Central Command said in a statement that there were no injuries or damage following the attack.

Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said earlier this month that the United States “will certainly continue to do everything we can to protect commercial shipping through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden and, of course, will do whatever we need to do to protect our forces.”

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