U.S. Blames Iran for Helping Houthi Rebels Shoot down Drone in Yemen

WASHINGTON, June 16 (Reuters) – Houthi rebels in Yemen recently shot down a U.S. government-operated drone with assistance from Iran, the U.S. military said in a statement on Sunday.

Lt. Col. Earl Brown, a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command, said the altitude at which the MQ-9 drone was shot down on June 6 marked “an improvement over previous Houthi capability,” a fact that led the military to conclude the rebel group had help from Iran.

Brown also noted that on June 13, Iran separately tried to shoot down yet another U.S. drone over the Gulf of Oman in an effort to disrupt surveillance of Iran‘s attack on Kokuka Courageous, one of two oil tankers attacked on Thursday.

U.S. officials have blamed Tehran for those attacks, raising fears about a potential confrontation between the United States and Iran.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch Editing by Nick Zieminski)