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US confirms downing of military drone by Iran over Strait of Hormuz

An MQ-4C Triton flies over Point Mugu, Calif. in May 2018. (U.S. Navy/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. officials have confirmed that an Iranian surface-to-air missile shot down a military drone in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz, several media outlets are reporting.

Reuters, Fox News and the Associated Press all quoted anonymous U.S. officials as saying a U.S. Navy MQ-4C Triton drone was downed on June 20.

The report confirmed an earlier statement by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which claimed to have shot down a U.S. drone.

However, the IRGC said the act occurred over Iran’s southern province of Hormozgan, while the U.S. sources claimed the drone was in international airspace when it was shot out of the sky.

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“It was shot down when it entered Iran’s airspace near the Kouhmobarak District in the south,” the IRGC’s Sepah News website said.

Kouhmobarak is 1,200 kilometers southeast of Tehran and near the tense Strait of Hormuz.

The IRNA state-run news agency identified the drone as a RQ-4 Global Hawk.

The reports come amid soaring tensions between Washington and Tehran, raising fears of a potential armed conflict in the region.

Recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and near the Strait of Hormuz have exacerbated the situation, with Washington blaming Iran for the incidents. Tehran denies any involvement.

Meanwhile, Iran-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen claimed they had struck a power station in Al-Shuqaiq city in Saudi Arabia’s Jizan Province with a cruise missile.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said President Donald Trump had been “briefed on the reports of a missile strike in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

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“We are closely monitoring the situation and continuing to consult with our partners and allies,” Sanders said.