Iran announced it’s “completely ready for war” with the United States, this after it took down a U.S. military drone flying in international airspace late Wednesday night.
“Shooting down the American spy drone had a clear, decisive, firm and accurate message,” said Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Commander Gen. Hossein Salami via a translation, ABC News reported Thursday.
“The message is that the guardians of the borders of Islamic Iran will decisively respond to the violation of any stranger to this land. The only solution for the enemies is to respect the territorial integrity and national interests of Iran,” he continued.
“We do not intend to engage in war with any country, but we are completely ready for the war. Today’s incident is a clear sign of this accurate message,” the commander added.
U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed Thursday that a U.S. military drone had been downed by Iran and noted that the RQ-4A Global Hawk drone was attacked in international airspace – not in Iranian airspace or near the Strait of Hormuz, as Iran had claimed.
“Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false,” CENTCOM spokesperson Navy Capt. Bill Urban said in a statement, ABC reported. “This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace.”
According to CENTCOM, the drone was shot down around 11:35 p.m. GMT, or 7:35 p.m. EST, on Wednesday night by an Iranian surface-to-air missile.
Tensions with Iran have quickly escalated this month, and just this week an Iranian advisor to Tehran said war with the United States would be “unavoidable” if President Trump continues to impose sanctions on Iran.
A top Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander also said that Iran has powerful ballistic missiles that are capable of attacking U.S. aircraft carriers in the region, according to Iranian state TV.
And the Pentagon announced this week that 1,000 more U.S. troops would be sent to the Middle East after Iran’s “hostile behavior.”
The U.S. last week blamed Iran for an attack on two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, a situation that has quickly escalated tensions in the region.
The Norwegian-owned Front Altair was allegedly hit by a torpedo, news outlets reported, and it was on fire in the Gulf. The Kokuka Courageous tanker also suffered damages after a “suspected attack,” according to reports.
Iran was immediately suspected of having coordinated the hits. One of the tankers was carrying Japanese goods, and Iran and Japanese officials had been meeting in Tehran at the time. The tankers were near the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s most strategic, heavily trafficked waterways, where one-fifth of the world’s oil supply passes through. The attacks also took place near the location where Iran was accused of sabotaging four tankers last month.
The U.S. Navy had responded to the scene and helped evacuate the tankers.
Then, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) released video footage last week of what they say are Iranians removing an unexploded mine from one of the oil tankers that was attacked. Officials now say this video footage helps prove it.