Iran shoots down US drone aircraft

Iran shoots down US drone aircraft

Iranian forces have shot down a United States military drone, a move that appears to have escalated the volatile situation playing out between Washington and Tehran in the Middle East.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard said it had shot down an "intruding American spy drone" after it entered into the country's territory Thursday, according to state-run Press TV.

A US official confirmed to CNN a drone had been shot down, but said the incident occurred in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world's most vital shipping routes.

Press TV reported the downed drone was a US-made RQ-4 Global Hawk, while the US official said it was a MQ-4C Triton. Both are unmanned surveillance aircraft developed by weapons manufacturer Northrop Grumman.

The head of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, said the shooting down of the drone had sent a warning to the US.

"The only way for our enemies to be safe is to respect our sovereignty, national security, and the national interests of the great Iranian nation," Salami said, according to Iran's semi-official Tasnim News Agency.

Press TV reported that Revolutionary Guards shot down the drone while it was flying over country's southern coastal province of Hormozga.

In comments likely to inflame tensions, Salami said that Iran does "not want war with any country, but we are completely, and totally, ready and prepared for war."

Reuters quoted Cap. Bill Urban, a spokesman for the US Central Command, as saying "no US aircraft were operating in Iranian airspace" Thursday.

Relations between the two adversaries have taken a dangerous turn this week, beginning with the Trump administration's decision Monday to deploy 1,000 additional troops and more military resources to the Middle East. The forces are being sent in response to what Washington called "hostile behavior by Iranian forces that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region."

US officials blame Iran for conducting attacks against oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, and the US President himself last week accused Iran of being behind the provocation, telling Fox News: "It was them that did it."

Tehran has categorically denied the accusations, and President Hassan Rouhani said the country does not seek war but "is determined to show its hopefulness and vitality and defeat the enemy's plot."


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