A U.S. military drone was shot down by Iranian-backed terrorists over the Red Sea on Wednesday, in the latest in a series of attacks against American forces in the region.
According to a U.S. defense official, the $56.5 million MQ-9 Reaper drone was shot down over international waters. The incident is being investigated by U.S. Central Command.
Houthi rebels, a terrorist group in Yemen supported by Iran, claimed responsibility for the attack. This comes after the Biden administration delisted the Houthis as a terrorist organization in February 2021.
The attack is reminiscent of a similar incident in June 2019, when Iran shot down a U.S. drone with a surface-to-air missile. Former President Donald Trump initially approved a retaliatory strike against Iran, but later backed off his decision.
Following the downing of the drone on Wednesday, the U.S. launched airstrikes in Syria. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmed that the strikes were against a facility used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and their affiliated groups in Syria.
BREAKING: American MQ-9 Reaper drone shot down in international airspace near Yemen, U.S. defense official says. https://t.co/gwFXtiEoON
— ABC News (@ABC) November 8, 2023
The targeted facility was a weapons storage facility, and the strikes were conducted by two U.S. F-15s in response to a series of recent attacks against American personnel in Iraq and Syria by IRGC-Quds Force affiliates.
This was the second time in two weeks that the U.S. has targeted Iranian forces in Syria. No footage of the strikes has been released by the administration.
In a statement, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin declared the strikes as self-defense and stated that the U.S. would continue to conduct counter-ISIS missions in Iraq and Syria.
The recent attacks against U.S. forces have raised concerns about escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Iran and its proxy groups have launched a total of 22 attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq, as well as another 18 attacks in Syria, resulting in 46 American soldiers being injured, with 25 diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries.
The Biden administration has been urged to take a tougher stance against Iran, with some officials calling for a more forceful response to the attacks. However, the administration has not released any further plans for how it intends to handle the situation.
In the meantime, tensions in the region continue to rise as the U.S. and Iran appear to be on a collision course. It remains to be seen how these recent events will impact the relationship between the two countries in the future.