‘Suicide Drones’ Linked to Iran Have Made Their Way to Yemen Rebels, Photos Suggest

An unmanned aerial vehicle that appeared at a weapons exhibition held earlier this year by the rebels ruling much of Yemen bears a striking resemblance to the kamikaze drone believed to have been used later in a deadly attack against an oil tanker off the coast of Oman, experts told Newsweek.

The system used in that operation and others like it have been linked by U.S. officials and other analysts to Iran, but experts also noted the near impossibility of drawing a direct link to any single source.

Mercer Street, a Liberia-flagged vessel operating on behalf of a company owned by an Israeli businessman, was hit by two back-to-back explosions in July while sailing through the Gulf of Oman. The latter blast killed the ship’s captain, a Romanian national, along with its security officer, a citizen of the United Kingdom.

The incident sparked international outrage as the United States and Israel attributed the event to one-way drones built by Iran, which denied any involvement in the attacks. The top suspect is a model referred to by experts and foreign officials as “Shahed-136,” a so-called “suicide drone” with an estimated range of 2,000 to 2,200 kilometers, or roughly 1,240 to 1,370 miles.

“We are confident, based on our assessment of the debris that was recovered from the M/T Mercer Street, that the system used in the attack was an Iranian Shahed-136 UAV and these are manufactured only in Iran,” U.K. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Barbara Woodward told the U.N. Security Council last month.

But the unique “delta-wing”-style drone has also been identified elsewhere, notably in Yemen, where the Ansar Allah, or Houthi movement, possesses a very similar platform referred to as Waeed. Allegations that Iran supplies such weapons to Ansar Allah have been rejected by both parties.

Source: News Week


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