Houthi rebels take credit for downing of US Reaper drone off Yemen’s coast

Iranian-backed Houthis rebels have taken credit for a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone crash off the coast of Yemen on Thursday, a claim confirmed on Friday. Thursday’s crash is the fourth remotely piloted aircraft brought down by rebels since November, costing the U.S. government upwards of $120 million. It is also the third time Houthi rebels have brought down a U.S. MQ-9 drone.Last fall, the Houthis released video of a reaper drone the rebels shot down on Nov. 8, one day after Hamas’ unprovoked attack. The rebels also brought down a second MQ-9 earlier this year, and another Iranian-proxy group brought one down in Iraq in January. MQ-9 Reapers are primarily used to collect intelligence, but can also be armed with Hellfire missiles. They have a wingspan of 66 feet and cost about $30 million.Unlike other Iranian-proxy groups, the Houthis continue to launch attacks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. They have launched 131 attacks to date, according to a U.S. defense official.On Thursday, Houthis also attacked a ship traveling through the Gulf of Aden, officials said.The attack came after the U.S. military said early Thursday that an allied warship shot down a Houthi missile targeting a vessel the day before near the same area. The Houthis also claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s assault, which comes after a period of relatively few rebel attacks on shipping in the region over in the Gaza Strip.