Hours after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down an American drone, the Foreign Ministry on Thursday expressed Tehran’s “strong objection” for what it said was a “violation of the country’s airspace” and issued a stern warning.
Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi was is quoted by the semi-official Tasnim news agency as saying that Iran cannot condone the “illegal trespassing and invading of the country’s skies by any kind of foreign flying object.”
He added: “We strongly condemn this kind of aggressive and provocative action. We warn against any violation of Iran’s airspace by foreign flying objects and declare that violators are responsible for the consequences of their actions.”
Iran said Thursday that its elite Revolutionary Guards had shot down a US drone flying over southern Iran – but Washington said the drone had been shot down in international airspace in the Strait of Hormuz.
Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, commander of the Revolutionary Guard, said the shoot-down served as a warning to the US that the Iranian military is capable of countering any “foreign aggression,” according to CNN, which cited the Iranian Tasnim news agency.
“The downing of the American drone is an open, clear and categorical message, which is: the defenders of the borders of Iran will decisively deal with any foreign aggression” Salami said. “This is the way the Iranian nation deals with its enemies.”
Salami added that Iran does “not want war with any country, but we are completely and totally ready and prepared for war.”
The Revolutionary Guards said the US drone had masked its identification equipment after it was launched, CNN reported, which quoted Iran’s Fars news agency.
The statement said the RQ-4 Global Hawk drone flew from the Strait of Hormuz toward Chabahar.
The Revolutionary Guards said the drone was “breaking all aerospace rules and hiding its identification, which is against all aviation rules.”
The IRGC statement added: “While returning to the western Hormuz Strait’s region the drone violated Iran’s airspace and engaged in information-gathering and spying. At 4:05 a.m. local time while the violating airplane was over Iranian territory it was shot down by IRGC.”
A US official earlier told CNN the drone was a MQ-4C Triton, not a Global Hawk. Both are unmanned surveillance aircraft developed by Northrop Grumman.
The drone downing was the latest in an escalating series of incidents in the region, including attacks on oil tankers as Tehran and Washington have slid toward confrontation. Iran has denied involvement in any of the attacks against the ships.
An American official acknowledged early Thursday that Iran shot down a US drone, saying it was hit by a surface-to-air missile while flying in international airspace near the Strait of Hormuz.
The US official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, contradicts information from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which said earlier on Thursday that it had downed the drone after it flew into Iranian airspace.
The drone – later identified by US officials as a MQ-4C Triton – is a high-altitude, unmanned aircraft with an integrated sensor suite to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, according to Military.com.
The shoot-down of the drone comes amid increased tensions between Iran and the US.
The US military alleged last week that Iran fired a missile at another drone that responded to the attack on two oil tankers in the region.
The US blames Iran for the attack on the tankers.