Iran shoots down US drone, heightening tensions


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The United States and Iran have been lobbing threats, fighting proxy wars, and imposing sanctions for decades. USA Today looks at over 60 years of this back-and-forth.
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U.S.-Iranian tensions heightened Thursday when a  U.S. surveillance drone was shot down by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in a strike it said sent a “clear message” that the Persian nation was ready to defend itself from Western aggression.

U.S. Defense officials and Iranian authorities provided alternative details on the incident, with Iran saying the drone was brought down over the southern coast of its Hormozgan Province. The Pentagon said the incident happened in international waters over the Strait of Hormuz.

“U.S. Central Command  can confirm that a U.S. Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance ISR aircraft was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace,” said Navy Capt. Bill Urban, spokesman for U.S. Central Command. “Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false.”

Urban called the strike an “unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset.”

A handout photo made available by the US Navy provided by Northrop Grumman, a RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle conducts tests over Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., June 25, 2010. (Photo: Erik Hildebrandt / US NAVY/ HAN, EPA-EFE)

The Iranian Guard said the drone was shot down by its air force and its Third of Khordad air defense system. Khordad is the third month of the Iranian Hijri calendar. The guard said the drone fell in the Kouh-e Mobarak region in the Central district of Jask, some 750 miles southeast of Tehran, after the aircraft violated Iran’s airspace.

Guard Commander Major General Hossein Salami said Iran does not want war, but that the incident should serve as a warning to the U.S. to stay away.

“The downing of the U.S. drone had an explicit, decisive and clear message that defenders of the Islamic Iran’s borders will show decisive and knockout reactions to aggression against this territory,” Salami said at a news conference in Kurdistan Province. “Borders are our redline, and any enemy violating these borders will not go back.” 

The two countries have escalated their rhetoric since two oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman last week. The United States blames Iran for the attacks, but Tehran denies responsibility. 

The U.S. military previously accused Iran of firing a missile at another drone last week that was responding to the attack on the oil tankers. In recent weeks the U.S. has sent an aircraft carrier to the Mideast and deployed additional troops to join tens of thousands already in the region.

Relations between the U.S. and Iran have been steadily deteriorating since President Donald Trump took office. Trump pulled the U.S. out of a global nuclear deal with Tehran a year ago. Iran’s nuclear agency warned this week that the country was 10 days away from breaking its uranium stockpile limit set under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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Tonya Frazier

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