A U.S. military drone was shot down over Yemen on June 6, and just a week later, another MQ-9 Reaper was targeted over the Gulf of Oman on June 13, according to a U.S. Central Command statement.
The press release states that the drone brought down over Yemen was taken out by a “Houthi SA-6 surface to air missile on Jun 6, 2019. The altitude of the engagement indicated an improvement over previous Houthi capability, which we asses [sic] was enabled by Iranian assistance.”
Then, in the early morning on June 13, a MQ-9 was flying over the Gulf of Oman where two civilian commerical vessels, the Norwegian-owned Front Altair and the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, were attacked.
“According to our assessment, a modified Iranian SA-7 surface-to-air missile attempted to shoot down a U.S. MQ-9 over the Gulf of Oman to disrupt surveillance of the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’] attack on the [motor tanker] Kokuka Courageous,” reads the statement. “The SA-7 was ineffective and its closest point of approach to the MQ-9 was approximately one kilometer.”
Iran has vehemently denied any involvement in the June 13 attack on the two ships, and claimed they were being used as a “scapegoat” and accused the United States and its regional allies of “warmongering,” according to Reuters.
President Donald Trump for his part has been blunt about who he believes is responsible for the attacks, telling Fox News “Iran did do it and you know they did it because you saw the boat,” referring to a video the Navy released on Thursday, which it said showed Iranian troops moving alongside one of the damaged ships, after the attack.
Neither crew was injured in the attacks on the Kokuka Courageous and Front Altair, and both were successfully evacuated that day.