The US RQ-4A Global Hawk drone was shot down above the Strait of Hormuz, with both sides accusing the other of being the aggressor.
A US surveillance drone was shot down by Iran on Thursday above the Strait of Hormuz, further escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf. However, both nations have conflicting accounts of where the drone was when it went down. The US contends that the drone was in international airspace while Iran claims that it violated its airspace.
Both sides are blaming each other as the aggressor. In either case, the incident is another step in what many fear will amount to war between the two countries.
The RQ-4A Global Hawk drone downing occurred at 4:05 am Iranian time on Thursday (7:35 pm Wednesday Eastern time). According to the US's account, it was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system.
“This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace,” said the United States Central Command in a statement.
Iran responded by releasing a statement that said its air force had taken down the US-made surveillance drone after it violated Iranian airspace near the Kouh-e Mobarak region.
“We have no intention of war, but we are standing strong,” said Gen. Hossein Salami, Commander of the Revolutionary Guard. He added that the strike was a signal that Iran wouldn’t back down from threats.
According to Iran’s account of events, the drone left its base in the Persian Gulf a little after midnight on Thursday and moved around the Strait of Hormuz before entering Iranian air space, where it was shot down.
Iran’s head of national security declared the country’s airspace as its red line, and the country would have issued a firm response regardless of which country trespassed. US officials dispute the allegations, stating, “Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false.”
The incident comes amid rising tensions, with the US blaming Iran for attacking oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman using limpet mines, harkening back to the Tanker Wars in the 1980s. Neither of the two ships were operated by the US, and Iran has denied involvement. Meanwhile, the US is sending additional forces into the region, including 1,000 additional troops.