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Another US MQ-9 Reaper drone goes down in Yemen, images purportedly show

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Another U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone went down in Yemen, images purported to show Wednesday, as Yemen’s Houthi terrorists continued attacks on shipping around the Red Sea over the Israel-Hamas war.

The Houthis released footage they said showed the aircraft being targeted with a surface-to-air missile in a desert region of Yemen’s central Marib province. It marked the third-such downing this month alone.

Images analyzed by The Associated Press showed the MQ-9 on its belly in the barren desert, its tail assembly disconnected from their rest of its body. At least one hatch on the drone appeared to have been opened after it landed there, though the drone remained broadly intact without any clear blast damage. One image included Wednesday’s date.

Noticeably, the drone did not appear to carry any markings on it.

Authorities in Marib, which remains held by allies of Yemen’s exiled government, did not acknowledge the drone.

A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, told the AP that “the U.S. Air Force has not lost any aircraft operating within U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility.” The official declined to elaborate.

The CIA also is believed to have flown Reaper drones over Yemen, both to monitor the war and in its campaign against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen’s local affiliate of the terrorist group. The CIA declined to comment when reached by the AP.

Located 75 miles east of Sanaa, Marib sits on the edge of the Arabian Peninsula’s Empty Quarter Desert at the foot of the Sarawat Mountains running along the Red Sea. The province has seen U.S. drones previously brought down there, in part because the region remains crucial for the outcome of Yemen’s yearslong war.

Reapers cost around $30 million apiece. They can fly at altitudes up to 50,000 feet and have an endurance of up to 24 hours before needing to land.

The Houthis in recent months have stepped up attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, demanding that Israel end the war in Gaza.

The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, seized one vessel and sunk another since November, according to the U.S. Maritime Administration.

Shipping through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden has declined because of the threat.

On Wednesday, Houthi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree acknowledged the terrorists attacked the bulk carrier Laax on Tuesday. Saree also claimed a number of other attacks on vessels that have not reported assaults without offering any evidence to support his claim. Saree in the past has exaggerated Houthi attacks.

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