What Happened: Houthi rebels have shot down a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone in the southern Yemeni province of Dhale, Houthi-affiliated Al Masirah TV reported Aug. 21, citing the group's military spokesman. Two anonymous U.S. officials later confirmed the incident to Reuters and Voice of America.
Why It Matters: The second successful downing of a U.S. MQ-9 drone in Yemen in two months highlights the Houthi rebels' improving military capabilities, as well as ongoing support from Iran in targeting U.S. assets in the region. The U.S. Central Command already warned of the Houthis' growing strike capabilities after the group destroyed a U.S. drone in June.
Background: Iran continues to support Houthi rebel forces in the Yemen civil war to push back against U.S. and Saudi interests in the region. Direct attacks against U.S. assets by Houthi forces are likely an attempt by the group and its Iranian backers to draw the United States more deeply into the conflict.