ADDS CENTCOM STATEMENT IN GRAFS 7-8
By Gulsen Topcu
DHAMAR, Yemen (AA) - Yemen’s Houthi rebel group claimed Tuesday to have downed a U.S. drone in Dhamar governorate, located southeast of the capital.
Houthi spokesman Yahia Sarie said the MQ-9 type drone was shot down with a locally developed missile which will be introduced to the public “soon,” according to the Houthi-run SABA news agency.
Sarie warned Saudi-led coalition forces that Yemen’s airspace would not be violated as before and they had to think carefully before taking such a step.
Noting that their capacity to neutralize “hostile aircraft” has increased, he said the coming days would witness “a big surprise”.
Meanwhile, aircraft of the coalition forces attacked three Houthi points in Dhamar city, according to eyewitnesses.
There was no comment from Houthi rebels or coalition forces on the attacks.
Following news of the alleged downing of the drone, the U.S. Central Command said it is "investigating reports of an attack by Iranian-backed Houthis forces."
"We have been clear that Iran's provocative actions and support to militants and proxies, like the Iranian-backed Houthis, poses a serious threat to stability in the region and our partners," spokesman Earl
Brown said in a statement.
Yemen plunged into a civil war in 2014 when Iran-backed Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.
In 2015, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launched a massive air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi gains in the impoverished country.
The ongoing violence has devastated Yemen’s basic infrastructure, prompting the UN to describe the situation as “one of the worst humanitarian disasters of modern times”.
*Writing by Sena Guler; Michael Hernandez contributed to this story from Washington