The US has confirmed that Iran's Revolutionary Guards shot down a maritime surveillance drone, but denied that it had been flying over Iranian airspace. US military officials called the incident an "unprovoked attack."
Iran's Revolutionary Guards claimed Thursday they shot down a US drone in the southern province of Hormozgan.
State news agency IRNA quoted the Guard's news website, Sepah News, as saying that the Islamic country's military force targeted the RQ-4 Global Hawk drone when it entered Iran's airspace "near the Kouhmobarak district in the south."
General Hossein Salami, the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, said the incident sent "a clear message" to the US, adding that Iran does "not have any intention for war with any country, but we are ready for war."
Responding swiftly to the Iranian claim, the US military said it had not violated Iranian airspace on Wednesday, saying that the drone was flying in international airspace some 34 kilometers (21 miles) from Iran over the Strait of Hormuz.
"Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false," the US military's Central Command said in a statement. They also called the incident "an unprovoked attack on a US surveillance asset in international airspace."
Trump criticizes 'loose and stupid' decision
Addressing the dowing of the drone, US President Donald Trump tweeted, "Iran made a very big mistake."
He later appeared to downplay the incident, saying that it might have been a mistake by someone on the Iranian side who was being "loose and stupid," but added that the US "will not stand for it."
When asked by reporters if the US will respond, Trump replied, "You'll soon find out."
The comments came amid a meeting between Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House.
Last week the US confirmed a previous Iranian attempt to shoot down one of its drones.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have escalated over the past month, with the US accusing Iran of continued malign activity and unspecified threats against the United States and its allies. Washington has also increased its military presence in the region.
The US accused Iran last week of attacking Japanese and Norwegian flagged tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz. Washington released video and pictures purporting to show a Revolutionary Guard boat removing an unexploded limpet mine.
Iranian officials rejected US claims that Tehran was behind the blasts.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday there was "strong evidence" Iran was behind the twin tanker attacks.
Deal under threat
Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal last year and reimposed harsh sanctions on Tehran that have hit oil exports and sent its economy into freefall.
On Monday, Iran warned that it would soon surpass the amount of enriched uranium allowed under the international deal, ratcheting up pressure on European signatories to save the accord.
Iran's atomic energy agency also raised the prospect of increasing enrichment levels beyond the 3.67% level allowed under the deal for peaceful purposes.
Sources : Deutsche Welle
Video Sources : aljazeera
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