Armed US drone shot down in Yemen

Armed US drone shot down in Yemen
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An armed U.S. drone was shot down in western Yemen on Sunday, the Pentagon confirmed Monday.

The incident involving a MQ-9 Reaper is under investigation, Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway said in a statement to The Hill.

The Pentagon uses the Reaper “to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations, including to track terrorist networks,” according to the statement.

“We aren't going to talk specifics due to operational security reasons; the U.S. has security interest in Yemen and works very closely with the Government of Yemen to counter terrorism,” Rankine-Galloway said.

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Iranian-backed Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for shooting down the drone in Yemen’s capital of Sanaa, multiple outlets reported.

The rebel group’s news agency SABA first posted a photo of the flaming drone after it was shot down. A  video posted later showed the drone falling from the sky.

Yemen is in the midst of a civil war that the United Nations estimates has killed more than 10,000 people.

The conflict began in March 2015 and involves government troops backed by a Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels supported by Iran.

The United States has supported the campaign by selling the Saudis billions of dollars of weapons, providing intelligence and helping with logistics such as air refueling.

U.S. forces are also in Yemen to combat al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The Pentagon did not say whether the drone was on a surveillance mission or was to combat the group.