US warship shoots down drone launched by Yemen's Huthis
An American warship shot down a drone Wednesday that was heading toward it from Yemen, the US military said, with the Iran-backed Huthi rebels saying they launched the aircraft and warning of a response.
The Huthis are opposed to government forces in Yemen and are also part of the "axis of resistance" of groups arrayed against Israel, which is locked in a devastating conflict with Hamas that has sparked 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-Huthi, a member of the Huthis' 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 Huthis, who seized Yemeni capital Sanaa in 2014 and control much of country.
The drone shootdown is related to the latest round of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas, which carried out a shock cross-border attack from Gaza on October 7 that Israeli officials say killed about 1,200 people.
Israel responded with a relentless air, land and naval assault on Hamas-controlled Gaza that the territory's health ministry says has killed more than 11,500 people.
Those deaths 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 Huthis 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.