Iranian commander: U.S drone downing was our ‘clear message’ to Washington

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TEHRAN – The commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Major-General Hossein Salami said Thursday that the downing of the US drone  is “a clear message” to Washington over Tehran’s readiness to react in case of aggression.

“The downing of the American drone was a clear message for [the United States of America] … our borders are the red line of Iran and we will react strongly against any aggression,” Fars news agency quotes Salami as saying.

At the same time, Salami said his country “is not seeking war” against other nations, but is ready to defend itself.

Earlier, IRGC claimed to have knocked down a Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk drone that would have invaded its airspace in Hormozgan province near the Strait of Hormuz.

The US did not deny that one of its drones was knocked over, but gave other information. According to NBC News, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) denied that its drone had invaded Iranian airspace on the grounds that there were no American drones in the airspace of the country. No American drone was operating in Iranian airspace according to CENTCOM spokesman Captain Bill Urban.

The incident comes amid escalating tension between the United States and Iran. Washington accuses Tehran of attacking two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz. After the episode, US President Donald Trump decided to send another 1,000 troops to the Middle East.

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The Strait of Hormuz is a route of strategic importance and route of more than a third of the maritime traffic of oil.

The television channel FarsNews has published an image of the supposedly overthrown aircraft:

A US official told Reuters , anonymously, that Iran shot down an American drone MQ-4C Triton with a land-to-air missile while the drone was flying over international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.

The United States also accuses Iran of attempting and failing to overthrow one of its surveillance drones before the alleged attack on oil tankers.

Iran denies the charges.

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