US Navy Ship Takes Down Drone from Yemen, According to Officials

A US warship shot down a drone in the Red Sea that came from Yemen, two US officials told Reuters on Wednesday. It was only the second time the United States has taken down projectiles near its warships since the Israel-Hamas conflict began. Washington is on high alert for activity from Iran-backed groups as tensions rise in the region. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Thomas Hudner, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, took down the drone early morning local time. The officials did not say whether the drone was armed or how close it came to the ship before being shot down. Last month, another US warship intercepted four cruise missiles and 15 drones launched by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement from Yemen toward Israel. Yemen’s Houthi leader said on Tuesday his forces would continue attacks on Israel and could target Israeli ships in the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait. Last week, the Houthis shot down a US military MQ-9 drone while it was in international airspace. The Houthis, who have been at war against a Saudi-led coalition since 2015, have emerged as a major military force in the Arabian Peninsula, with tens of thousands of fighters and a huge arsenal of ballistic missiles and armed drones. The US has sent a significant amount of naval power to the Middle East in the past month, including two aircraft carriers, their support ships, and thousands of US troops. The United States has carried out three sets of airstrikes against Iran-linked militia in Syria in response to attacks against US troops in Iraq and Syria. US and coalition troops have been attacked at least 55 times in Iraq and Syria since Oct. 17, injuring 59 personnel, though all have returned to duty, the Pentagon has said. Statements, purportedly from the militant groups responsible, have said the assaults are in response to US support for Israel in the war in Gaza. Reuters has reported that the US military is taking new measures to protect its Middle East forces during the ramp-up in attacks by suspected Iran-backed groups, and was leaving open the possibility of evacuating military families if needed. The measures include increasing US military patrols, restricting access to base facilities, and boosting intelligence collection, including through drone and other surveillance operations, officials say.