Iran’s national security council said the country’s airspace is its red line, and there would have been a firm response regardless of who trespassed.
By Courtney Kube, Phil Helsel and Ali Arouzi
FUJAIRAH, United Arab Emirates — A U.S. drone was shot down in international airspace above the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, U.S. Central Command said, contradicting a claim by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard that it struck the aircraft after it entered that country’s airspace.
Central Command spokesman Capt. Bill Urban said in a statementthat a surface-to-air missile hit an RQ-4A Global Hawk in international airspace above the strait. He called the incident “an unprovoked attack.”
Iranian and U.S. officials have previously delivered conflicting reports identifying the drone as an RQ-4A Global Hawk or its naval variant, the MQ-4 Triton.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said in a statement early Thursday that the U.S.-made Global Hawk surveillance drone was brought down by its air force near the Kouh-e Mobarak region, after the aircraft violated Iranian airspace.
In a later statement, they said the drone left a U.S. base in the Persian Gulf shortly after midnight local time on Thursday, moved around the Strait of Hormuz before entering Iranian air space four hours later when it was immediately shot down.
Commander of the Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Hossein Salami, said on state television said the strike served as a signal that Iran will not back down from threats. “We have no intention of war, but we are standing strong,” he said.
The head of Iran’s national security council said the country’s airspace is its red line, and there would have been a firm response regardless of which country trespassed.
But Urban disputed the allegations, saying, “Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false.”
It comes afterCentral Command called last week’s incident in the Gulf of Oman a limpet mine attack. The U.S. military said Wednesday that one of the tankers sabotaged in the Middle East was attacked with limpet mines that “bear a striking resemblance” to devices in Iran’s arsenal.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced Monday that the Trump administration would send 1,000 additional troops to the region.