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Iran Says It Shot Down a U.S. Drone

Iran shot down a United States drone after it entered its airspace, state media reported on Thursday, the latest escalation in the tensions between the two countries.

Press TV, a state-run news outlet in Iran, said that what it called a “spy drone” had been shot down in the province of Hormozgan, along the country’s southern coast on the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

The United States disputed that account. “No U.S. aircraft were operating in Iranian airspace today,” said Bill Urban, a spokesman for Central Command, news agencies reported, but The Associated Press and Reuters, citing anonymous sources, said the drone had been shot down in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.

In the context of the recent exchange of threats between Washington and Tehran, a successful Iranian attack on an American aircraft — even an unmanned drone — would mark a significant escalation over other recent clashes that the United States has attributed to Iran.

Hossein Salami, the commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, addressing the issue at a military ceremony in Sanandaj, Iran, said the drone had been shot down in Iranian airspace.

“We are not going to get engaged in a war with any country, but we are fully prepared for war,” Mr. Salami said, according to a translation from Press TV. “Today’s incident was a clear sign of this precise message so we are continuing our resistance.”

The Revolutionary Guards said in a separate statement that the aircraft was an American-made Global Hawk surveillance drone, according to Press TV.

American officials said last week that Iran had fired a surface-to-air missile at a drone over the Gulf of Oman, on the same day that two oil tankers were attacked. United States officials have blamed Iran for the attacks on the tankers, as well as similar attacks in May against four oil tankers near the United Arab Emirates, a charge that has been strenuously denied in Tehran.

On Wednesday, United States officials sought to bolster their case that Iran was responsible for the attacks on the two tankers last week, telling journalists at a briefing that fragments recovered from one of the tankers bore a “striking resemblance” to limpet mines used by Iran.

A Navy official also said the investigation had found fingerprints and other valuable information at the scene; earlier, the United States had released video of what it said was an Iranian crew removing a limpet mine from one of the tankers.

President Trump ordered an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East on Monday, as Iran announced that it would violate a central component of a landmark 2015 agreement intended to curb Tehran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon. Mr. Trump pulled the United States out of the pact last year.

The U.S. had dispatched 1,500 troops to the region in May.

Source: NYT > World

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