In an escalating conflict, Yemen’s Iranian-supported Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for shooting down a U.S. military drone worth $56.5 million over the Red Sea on Wednesday. This incident occurred in international waters and is currently under investigation by U.S. Central Command, a defense official confirmed to CNN.
This isn’t the first occurrence of such an incident. Back in 2019, Iran had brought down a U.S. drone using a surface-to-air missile. At that time, then-President Donald Trump had given initial approval for a retaliatory strike against Iran, but later reversed his decision.
The Biden administration delisted the Houthi group as a terrorist organization last year. However, this recent attack on the U.S. drone indicates an escalation in hostility from the group.
In response to these ongoing threats, the U.S. launched airstrikes later in the day targeting Iranian-backed militants in Syria, not the Houthis in Yemen. This action was taken following 22 attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and 18 attacks on U.S. forces in Syria by Iran and its proxies, resulting in injuries to 46 U.S. soldiers, including 25 diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries.
The airstrikes were carried out by two U.S. F-15s on a weapons storage facility in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and associated groups. The Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that these “self-defense” strikes were a response to the series of attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria by IRGC-Quds Force affiliates.
This marks the second time in recent weeks that U.S. forces have launched strikes against Iranian forces in Syria. The administration has yet to release any footage of these strikes.
Austin assured that the U.S. will persist in conducting counter-ISIS missions in Iraq and Syria. This report will be updated as additional information becomes available.