Iran defence forces shot down a US drone on Thursday amid escalating tensions between the US and Iran over its collapsing nuclear deal. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards stated that they shot down a RQ-4 Global Hawk over Iranian airspace, while a US official told The Associated Press the downing happened over the international airspace.
Earlier, the US military alleged Iran had fired a missile at another drone last week that was responding to the attack on two oil tankers near the Gulf of Oman. The US blames Iran for the attack on the ships; Tehran denies it was involved.
The attacks come against the backdrop of heightened tensions between the US and Iran following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from Tehran’s nuclear deal a year ago.
In recent weeks, the US has sped an aircraft carrier to the Mideast and deployed additional troops to the tens of thousands already in the region. In From Yemen, Iranian-allied Houthi rebels have launched bomb-laden drones into neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
All this has raised fears that a miscalculation or further rise in tensions could push the US 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 on Thursday morning when it entered Iranian airspace near the Kouhmobarak district in southern Iran’s Hormozgan province.
Kouhmobarak is about 1,200 kilometers southeast of Tehran and very close to the Strait of Hormuz. Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency, citing the IRGC, identified the drone as an RQ-4 Global Hawk. The US official told the AP the Iranians fired a surface-to-air missile striking the American drone.
The official said the incident happened over the Strait of Hormuz in international airspace. The strait is the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20% of all global oil moves through.