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Iran Shoots Down U.S. Drone, Ratcheting Up Tensions in Persian Gulf

In a major provocation, Iran shot down a United States military drone while it was flying in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz Thursday, as the regime in Tehran declared it was “ready for war.”

General Hossein Salami, the new commander of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) described the attack as “a clear, decisive, firm and accurate message” against American aggression. “We do not intend to engage in war with any country, but we are completely ready for the war. Today’s incident is a clear sign of this accurate message,” Salami said.

U.S. Navy Captain Bill Urban condemned the “unprovoked attack,” adding that the “Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false.” Iranian state media had reported earlier that the IRGC downed the drone when it entered Iranian airspace.

Iran claimed it had destroyed a RQ-4 Global Hawk near Kouhmobarak, north of the Strait of Hormuz, but the U.S. said it was a Navy MQ-4C Triton in international airspace. The Islamic Republic News Agency also released a photograph purporting to show the burning drone falling from the sky, but the image was taken two years ago in Yemen.

The downing of the drone is the latest in a series of unprovoked attacks by Iran on American interests and Arab allies in the region. Last Thursday, the IRGC attempted to shoot down a MQ-9 Reaper that was surveilling the attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman – an attack carried out by Iranian forces.

Commander Sean Kido, who leads an explosive ordnance dive and salvage task group in the Naval Forces Central Command, told reporters in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday that the limpet mine used in the attack “is distinguishable and it is also strikingly bearing a resemblance to Iranian mines that have already been publicly displayed in Iranian military parades.”

Iran has denied responsibility for the attack, as well as the attack on four vessels of the coast of the United Arab Emirates last month, in what the damaged parties have described as a “sophisticated and coordinated operation” most likely carried out by a “state actor.”

Image Source – Creative Commons