A US MQ-9 drone was shot down over Yemen on Tuesday by a surface-to-air missile, a US official tells CNN.
The US believes the missile was provided to Houthi rebels by Iran, said the official, who added that it was not immediately clear if the drone was being operated by the US military or the intelligence community.
The official said the Trump administration will publicly call out Iran for the incident, which was first reported by Reuters.
Houthi rebels claimed its air defenses shot down the drone south of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa. A Houthi spokesman said the missile was “developed locally” and will be revealed at a press conference.
The downing of a US drone by Iran in June nearly led to a US military strike, with President Donald Trump calling off the attack minutes before it was to take place due to what he said would have been a high death toll. The US claimed the drone was in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s most vital shipping routes, while Iran said the drone was over its territory.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have run high as the Trump administration has taken a hard stance against the longtime US foe. Since the decision by Trump in 2018 to abandon the Iran nuclear deal, Washington has attempted to use what it calls “maximum pressure” to change Iran’s behavior and limit its nuclear ambitions.
On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned against ending an arms embargo amid increasing efforts by Washington to restrict Iran’s oil exports. The arms embargo was put in place by the UN and is set to be lifted five years after the adoption of the nuclear deal.