IRGC chief says downed drone is a message to US

The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has said the shooting down of a US drone has sent “a clear message” to America.

General Hossein Salami also said Iran “does not have any intention for war with any country, but we are ready for war”.

His speech was carried live on Iranian state television, shortly after US and Iranian officials acknowledged the drone had been brought down.

Tehran says the drone was shot down over Iranian airspace, while US officials say the incident took place over the Strait of Hormuz, in international airspace.

The Revolutionary Guard said that the aircraft was hit as it entered Iranian territory near the Kouhmobarak district in southern Iran’s Hormozgan province. Kouhmobarak is some 750 miles south-east of Tehran and close to the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency, citing the Guard, identified the drone as an RQ-4 Global Hawk. However, the US Navy also flies a variant that looks similar called the MQ-4C Triton.

US officials said the Iranians fired a surface-to-air missile, striking the American drone. They said the incident happened over the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20% of all global oil moves through.

Previously, the US military alleged that Iran had fired a missile at another drone last week that was responding to the attack on two oil tankers near the Gulf of Oman.

The US blames Iran for the attack on the ships, although Tehran denies it was involved.

The attacks come against the backdrop of heightened tensions between the US and Iran following US president Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from Tehran’s nuclear deal a year ago.

The White House separately said it was aware of reports of a missile strike on Saudi Arabia amid a campaign targeting the kingdom by Yemen’s Iranian-allied Houthi rebels.

Iran recently quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium and threatened to boost its enrichment closer to weapons-grade levels, in a bid to pressure Europe for new terms to the 2015 nuclear deal.