Iran has denied President Donald Trump’s statement Thursday that the USS Boxer destroyed an Iranian drone, instead suggesting the U.S. may have shot down its own drone by mistake.
The Pentagon has not confirmed or denied that the drone the U.S. destroyed Thursday was an Iranian drone, nor has it clarified the “defensive action” that was taken to ensure the safety of the Navy crew. President Donald Trump announced Thursday that the U.S. had “immediately destroyed” an Iranian drone.
Military.com reported that an official said the drone was jammed by the Marine Corps’ Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System (LMADIS).
“We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else. I am worried that USS Boxer has shot down their own UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) by mistake!,” Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said on Twitter.
We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else. I am worried that USS Boxer has shot down their own UAS by mistake!
— Seyed Abbas Araghchi (@araghchi) July 19, 2019
Iranian Armed Forces Brig. Gen. Abolfazl Sherkchi said, “Contrary to the unfounded allegation and illusion of the terrorist president of the United States, all drones belonging to the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Persian Gulf region and the Strait of Hormuz, including the drone mentioned by Trump, after the planned reconnaissance and controlled mission have returned to their bases intact, and no reports have been reported on the USS Boxer’s confrontation with Iranian drones,” according to Iran’s state-run news, Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), on Friday.
Shekarchi added that Trump’s “unfounded” claims are merely part of an effort to exacerbate tensions and instability in the region.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also said on Thursday that he was unaware of any reports of Iran losing a drone.
“I checked with Tehran, and we do not have any information about having lost a drone today. So, we don’t know, as of now what has happened. We have the president saying that they shot a drone. We don’t know whose drone it is, but we don’t have that information,” Zarif said, as reported by Iran’s Tasnim News Agency.
“We defend ourselves. Any attack on us will be reciprocated massively,” Zarif warned.
Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement Thursday night, “At approximately 10 a.m. local time, the amphibious ship USS Boxer was in international waters conducting a planned inbound transit of the Strait of Hormuz. A fixed wing unmanned aerial system (UAS) approached Boxer and closed within a threatening range. The ship took defensive action against the UAS to ensure the safety of the ship and its crew.”
Trump said on Thursday that the USS Boxer shot down the Iranian drone after it flew within 1,000 yards of the warship and ignored calls to leave the area.
“The Boxer took defensive action against an Iranian drone which had closed into a very near distance, approximately 1,000 yards, ignoring multiple calls to stand down and was threatening the safety of the ship and ship’s crew,” Trump said while speaking at a White House flag presentation ceremony with Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
“The drone was immediately destroyed,” Trump noted, without elaborating.
“This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters,” he added. “The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, facilities and interests.”
Not long after Trump’s announcement, Zarif tweeted a photo of a map with the U.S. and Iran highlighted along with a one-word caption, “Reminder.”
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) July 18, 2019