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US Pentagon confirms Iranian forces shot down surveillance drone

The Pentagon insisted the aircraft was in international air space.

Super Hornets sit secured on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (file photo)
Super Hornets sit secured on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (file photo)
Image: AP

Updated Jun 20th 2019, 4:45 PM

THE UNITED STATES Pentagon has confirmed that Iranian forces shot down a US naval surveillance drone but has insisted the aircraft was in international air space, not that of Iran.

Earlier today, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Hossein Salami, said it is “ready to respond to any declaration of war” after Tehran said it shot down the drone over its waters. 

“The US-made Global Hawk surveillance drone was brought down by its Air Force” in the country’s southern coastal province of Hormozgan, the Revolutionary Guard added, according to the English-language Press TV.

Iranian state television made the announcement earlier this morning, but did not provide pictures of the drone.

Tehran’s response to the drone was “a clear message” from the “defenders of the borders” of Iran, Salami said, quoted by Tasnim news agency. 

“The borders represent our red line,” he said.

We declare that we are not looking for war but we are ready to respond to any declaration of war.

According to US Central Command spokesman, Navy Captain Bill Urban, the drone was downed by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while flying in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.

“Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false,” he added. “This was an unprovoked attack on a US surveillance asset in international airspace.”

The incident comes at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and the United States.

The US has accused Iran of being behind a series of operations against oil tankers in highly sensitive Gulf waters.

Tehran has denied involvement and instead suggested Washington could be behind the attacks, using the operation to justify force against Iran.

The province of Hormozgan borders the Strait of Hormuz, where the oil tanker attacks took place last week.

The relationship between Tehran and Washington has been particularly strained since the US quit the a nuclear deal announced in 2015 last year, and reimposed sanctions on Iran.

The US has also bolstered its military presence in the Middle East recently and blacklisted Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation.

But Tehran’s top security official said on Wednesday there was no reason to worry about a conflict breaking out.

“There will be no war (between Iran and the US) since there is no reason for a war,” said rear-admiral Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, quoted by the official news agency IRNA.

With reporting from - © AFP 2019

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