Iran Downs U.S. Drone: 'We Sent Washington a Message'

U.S. official confirms the military drone was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile in international airspace

Two MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicles are seen on the tarmac at a Northrop Grumman test facility in Palmdale, Calif
U.S. Navy / Northrop Grumman / Chad Slattery

A U.S. military drone has been shot down in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz by an Iranian surface-to-air missile, a U.S. official said on Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity. 

The official said the drone was a U.S. Navy MQ-4C Triton. No further details were immediately available, including the time of the shoot-down. 

Iran Tensions
AP/Haaretz

Iran's Revolutionary Guard said earlier Thursday that it shot down a U.S. "spy" drone in the southern province of Hormozgan.

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"It was shot down when it entered Iran's airspace near the Kouhmobarak." 

A senior Iranian security official said on Wednesday Iran would "strongly respond" to any violation of its airspace. 

The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard said that the shooting down of the U.S. drone has sent "a clear message" to America.
Gen. Hossein Salami said also says that Iran does "not have any intention for war with any country, but we are ready for war."

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 31Haaretz

His speech was carried live on Iranian state television.

Meanwhile, the semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security council as saying: "Our airspace is our red line and Iran has always responded and will continue to respond strongly to any country that violates our airspace."

On Wednesday, Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis struck a power station in Saudi Arabia’s al-Shuqaiq city, in the southern province of Jizan, with a cruise missile, their Al Masirah TV said, but there was no immediate confirmation from Saudi authorities.

The first MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, assigned to Unmanned Patrol Squadron (VUP) 19, at Naval Base Ventura County, Calif.
U.S. Navy, Theresa Miller

U.S. officials said they were aware of reports of a missile strike on the kingdom’s “critical infrastructure”, but gave no details of possible damage or casualties.

The attacks come against the backdrop of heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran following President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers a year ago. The White House separately said it was aware of reports of a missile strike on Saudi Arabia amid a campaign targeting the kingdom by Yemen's Iranian-allied Houthi rebels.

Iran recently has quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium and threatened to boost its enrichment closer to weapons-grade levels, trying to pressure Europe for new terms to the 2015 deal.

In recent weeks, the U.S. has sped an aircraft carrier to the Mideast and deployed additional troops to the tens of thousands already in the region. Mysterious attacks also have targeted oil tankers as Iranian-allied Houthi rebels launched bomb-laden drones into Saudi Arabia.

All this has raised fears that a miscalculation or further rise in tensions could push the U.S. and Iran into an open conflict, some 40 years after Tehran's Islamic Revolution.

Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said it shot down the drone Thursday morning when it entered Iranian airspace near the Kouhmobarak district in southern Iran's Hormozgan province. Kouhmobarak is some 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) southeast of Tehran and is close to the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran's state-run IRNA news agency, citing the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, identified the drone as an RQ-4 Global Hawk.

Capt. Bill Urban, a U.S. Central Command spokesman, declined to comment when asked if an American drone was shot down.

However, he told The Associated Press: "There was no drone over Iranian territory."

Meanwhile, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump had been "briefed on the reports of a missile strike in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

"We are closely monitoring the situation and continuing to consult with our partners and allies," Sanders said.

The Houthi's Al-Masirah satellite news channel claimed the rebels targeted a power plant in Jizan, near the kingdom's border with Yemen, with a cruise missile. Saudi state media and officials did not immediately report a missile strike Thursday.

A Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Houthis since March 2015 in Yemen, the Arab world's poorest nation now pushed to the brink of famine by the conflict. In recent weeks, the Houthis have launched a new campaign sending missiles and bomb-laden drones into Saudi Arabia.