(MENAFN - Arab Times) WASHINGTON, Aug 22, (Agencies): US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper confirmed that the US did lose an MQ-9 over Yemen. In his first interview since assuming post, Esper told Fox network 'we did lose an MQ-9 over Yemen and once we determine that and sort out the facts, then we'll figure out the next steps as appropriate.'
Meanwhile, National Security Council (NSC) spokesperson Garrett Marquis said in a statement that President Donald Trump has been briefed. 'This attack is only possible because of Iran's lethal aid to the Houthis and serves as yet another example of the regime's relentless efforts to escalate conflict and threaten regional stability,' Marquis stressed. The US Central Command (CENTCOM) said Wednesday it is 'investigating reports of an attack by Iranianbacked Houthi forces on a US unmanned aerial system (UAS) operating in authorized airspace over Yemen.'
Forces of Coalition Supporting Legitimacy in Yemen intercepted and shot down on Thursday two drones launched by Iranian-backed Houthi terrorist militia from Amran province towards the Kingdom. Colonel Turki Al-Maliki, spokesman of the Coalition for Supporting Legitimacy in Yemen, said that the coalition forces managed to intercept two drones launched by the Houthi militias from Amran province towards Khamis Mushait. Colonel Al-Maliki pointed out that all attempts by Houthi militia are doomed to fail and the coalition takes all operational procedures to deal with these aircraft to protect civilians, and that repeated attempts reflect the despair of the terrorist militia and those behind them.
The UN humanitarian chief in Yemen warned Wednesday that unless significant new funding is received in the coming weeks, food rations for 12 million people in the war-torn country will be reduced and at least 2.5 million malnourished children will be cut off from life-saving services. Lise Grande said the UN was forced to suspend most vaccination campaigns in May, and without new money a 'staggering' 22 life-saving programs in Yemen will close in the next two months.
At a UN pledging conference in February, donors pledged $2.6 billion to meet the urgent needs of more than 20 million Yemenis, but Grande said that to date, less than half the amount has been received. 'When money doesn't come, people die,' she said in a statement Wednesday. The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of the capital, Sanaa, by Iran-backed Houthi Shiite rebels who control much of the country's north.
A Saudi-led coalition that includes the United Arab Emirates allied with Yemen's internationally recognized government has been fighting the Houthis since 2015. The fighting in the Arab world's poorest country has killed thousands of civilians and created the world's worst humanitarian crisis, leaving millions suffering from food and medical care shortages and pushing the country to the brink of famine.