Iran's Revolutionary Guard shoots down US drone

Describes the move as the way it "deals with enemies"

Photo: EPA Head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. Major General Hossein Salami

Iranian forces have shot down a United States military drone, in a move that further escalates the volatile situation playing out between Washington and Tehran in the Middle East. The downing of the "intruding American spy drone" was made after it reportedly entered into the country's territory Thursday, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. Major General Hossein Salami has said.

Yet, in his strongly worded statement, which is likely to inflame tensions, Salami also said that the move is a warning message to the United States that Iranian army forces are capable of countering any “foreign aggression" and that the nation is "ready and prepared" for war.

“The downing of the American drone is an open, clear and categorical message, which is: the defenders of the borders of Iran will decisively deal with any foreign aggression” Salami said. "This is the way the Iranian nation deals with its enemies," he added.

Salami said Iran’s airspace is “a red line,” and warned the US that "the only way for our enemies to be safe is to respect our sovereignty, national security, and the national interests of the great Iranian nation.”
“We declare that we do not want war with any country, but we are completely and totally ready and prepared for war,” he said.

Later on, a US official confirmed to CNN a drone had been shot down, but said the incident occurred in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world's most vital shipping routes. Reuters on the other hand quoted Cap. Bill Urban, a spokesman for the US Central Command, as saying "no US aircraft were operating in Iranian airspace".

In the latest developments, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman has condemned the “violation” of its airspace, according to a report in the country's Tasnim news agency. According to Tasnim, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Syed Abbas Mousavi said: “We strongly condemn this kind of aggressive and provocative action. We warn against any violation of Iran's airspace by foreign flying objects and declare that violators are responsible for the consequences of their actions.”

The already worrying stateof the relations between the two adversaries have taken a dangerous turn this week, beginning with the Trump administration's decision Monday to deploy 1,000 additional troops and more military resources to the Middle East. The forces are being sent in response to what Washington called "hostile behavior by Iranian forces that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region."

US officials blame Iran for conducting attacks against oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, and the US President himself last week accused Iran of being behind the provocation, telling Fox News: "It was them that did it."

Tehran, however has categorically denied the accusations, and President Hassan Rouhani said the country does not seek war but "is determined to show its hopefulness and vitality and defeat the enemy's plot."

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