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Iranian Force Exults in Downing of U.S. Drone With a Feast and a Prayer

“We could have hit that plane,” Gen. Abulfazl Hajizadeh of the Guard’s air force said, according to Iranian state media. “It was our right but we struck the drone with no passengers.”

American officials said the spy plane was outside Iranian air space and could not hold so large a crew.

Western analysts said they doubted claims that Guard leaders had failed to anticipate the severity of the American reaction to shooting down the drone, noting the caustic warnings recently issued by John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, and Mr. Trump himself.

“To say that they were surprised is just inaccurate,” Mr. Vaez of the International Crisis Group said.

Some current and former American military officials, though, said that they had also concluded that the Guard did not foresee the backlash.

“This wasn’t a mistake” or “some rogue guy just pushing a button,” said retired Vice Admiral John W. Miller, a former commander of the American Navy’s Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain. “It was a complex accomplishment by Iran that was well planned,” he said, but “a miscalculation.”

Still, at the celebratory dinner Thursday night, exultant Guard leaders bragged that they had done it with an Iranian-made missile instead of one acquired from the Russians or Chinese, according to the person present. That claim that could not be independently confirmed, but it was repeated Saturday in the Iranian state media.

“Bolton and Hook keep whispering in Trump’s ears that Iran is all show-off and if you attack it, the regime will fold like puff pastry,” the host of the event, Col. Gholamreza Ashrafi, told his guests, according to the person present. “We showed that we are no puff pastry.”

Source: NYT > World

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