U.S. destroyer shoots down Iranian-built drone over the Red Sea

The USS Carney, a U.S. warship that has been at the center of several engagements with the Houthis, has shot down an Iranian-built drone over the Red Sea on Nov. 29. While Iran’s proxies in Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria have dialed back attacks against Israel as it is honoring a truce with Hamas, the Houthis have continued to strike at U.S. forces and Israel.

U.S. Central Command reported that the USS Carney, a guided missile destroyer, “shot down an Iranian-produced KAS-04 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) launched from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.” Although the “intentions are not known,” the Houthi UAV “was heading toward the warship” when it was engaged and shot down, CENTCOM reported.

The Iranians have supplied the KAS-04 UAVs to Iraqi militias. Iranian-backed militias that makeup Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces paraded KAS-04s in Iraq in June 2021.

The Carney’s shootdown of the Houthi UAV is the latest in a series of engagements in the Red Sea and the vital Bab al Mandeb Strait. In one of the most significant engagements, the Houthis launched two anti-ship ballistic cruise missiles at the USS Mason, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer assigned to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, as it was responding to a hijacking attempt on a cargo ship in the Red Sea on Nov. 27. The missiles missed by 10 miles, and the Department of Defense later said it couldn’t determine if the Mason was directly targeted.

The Houthis, in an effort to weaken Israel as the latter battles Hamas and allied terror groups in Gaza, have launched a series of drone, ballistic, and cruise missile attacks against Israeli territory. U.S. warships have shot down Houthi weapons systems at least two other times during these incidents. Additionally, the Houthis shot down a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper unmanned Aerial Vehicle off the coast of Yemen on Nov. 8.

The Iranians have also harassed U.S. warships operating in the region. On Nov. 28, an “Iranian drone” flew within 1,500 yards of the 1,500 yards of USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, as it was conducting flight operations. The Eisenhower strike group did not engage the Iranian drone.

Other active fronts in the region are currently experiencing a period of general calm due to the ongoing ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Iran-backed groups have linked their attacks against Israel and the U.S. to the war in Gaza. Lebanese Hezbollah has predominantly refrained from operating against Israel, while Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria have also ceased their attacks. However, it is important to note that this period of calm in the region is expected to be short-lived, as Israeli officials have warned they will resume fighting Hamas.

The Houthis, which is also known as Ansar Allah, has seized control of significant areas in northern Yemen, including the capital of Sana’a, since it launched its rebellion in 2014. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps increasingly co-opted the Houthi movement since its formation in the 1990s. The IRGC has provided the Houthis with weapons, training, and financial support. Iran uses its network of militias and terrorist groups in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon to put pressure on Israel as well as the United States.

The Houthis are estimated to have 100,000 fighters under arms. The official motto of the Houthis is: “God is great, death to the U.S., death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory for Islam.”

The Trump administration listed the Houthis as a Foreign Terror Organization in Jan. 2021, but President Biden revoked the designation just weeks after he entered office, stating that the designation prohibited aid to the people of Yemen. However, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, the group’s overall leader, Abd al-Khaliq Badr al-Din al-Houthi, and Abdullah Yahya al-Hakim remain listed as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.

According to a Fox News report, the Biden administration is considering reclassifying the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization in response to recent attacks against Israel and the United States.

Joe Truzman is a research analyst at FDD's Long War Journal focused primarily on Palestinian militant groups and Hezbollah. Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

Tags: , , , , ,


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram