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US drone carrying 'top-secret tech' shot down in Yemen

The US has used a complex system of electronic surveillance codenamed GILGAMESH [Hour News]

Date of publication: 15 February, 2017

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A likely US drone carrying a top-secret geolocation system has been shot down over the rebel-held central Yemeni province of Marib.

A likely US drone carrying a top-secret geolocation system has been shot down over the rebel-held central Yemeni province of Marib, local media has reported.

The unmanned drone was shot down late on Tuesday by Houthi rebels in the Sirwah district, the Houthi-run SABA News Agency alleged.

"The air force and popular committees managed to down a drone belonging to the Saudi-US aggressors," an unnamed military source told the pro-rebel outlet.

Local media released alleged images of the downed drone in flames, including pictures of the GILGAMESH geolocation system used by the US military's Joint Special Operations Command in its long-running drone war in Yemen.

"CLASSIFIED SECRET WHEN KEYED," read a warning on an alleged piece of wreckage. On another piece, the word "GILGAMESH" is clearly inscribed.

According to 2014 report in The Intercept, the US has used a complex system of electronic surveillance codenamed GILGAMESH as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

     
      Local media released alleged images of
the downed drone [Hour News]

"Under the [GILGAMESH] program, a specially constructed device is attached to the drone. As the drone circles, the device locates the SIM card or handset that the military believes is used by the target," the report said.

An unnamed military source told Turkish state media that the downed plane was "a large unmanned Phantom" carrying missiles. The source did not confirm whether the war plane belonged to the US air force.

Last month, a US drone strike killed two suspected al-Qaeda members in southern Yemen last month, a day after elite US forces killed 14 suspected militants in a nearby province.

The unmanned aircraft struck a vehicle in Bayhan district, on the border between Shabwa and Marib provinces, killing two people on board.

In December, pro-Houthi media claimed that a Saudi surveillance drone was brought down after by rebel fighters after flying over a Houthi military facility in Yemen's Jizan province.

Yemen's 20-month-old conflict has killed more than 10,000 people and wounded nearly 37,000, the United Nations says.

The Iran-backed Houthi rebels overran the capital Sanaa and other parts of the impoverished country in September 2014. It prompted a Saudi-led Arab military coalition to intervene six months later in support of President Abd-Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

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