The U.S. Central Command confirmed Thursday that a surveillance drone had been shot down by Iran's Revolutionary Guard, heightening tensions in the region.
Both U.S. Defense officials and Iranian authorities provided accounts of the drone being shot down. A spokesperson for the Pentagon said the incident occurred in international waters over the Strait of Hormuz. "U.S. Central Command can confirm that a U.S. Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance ISR aircraft was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace," said Navy Capt. Bill Urban, spokesman for U.S. Central Command. "Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false."
"This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset," Urban added.
Iranian authorities had a different story, saying the drone had been shot down over the southern coast of its Hormozgan Province.
"The downing of the U.S. drone had an explicit, decisive and clear message that defenders of the Islamic Iran’s borders will show decisive and knockout reactions to aggression against this territory," Revolutionary Guard Commander Major General Hossein Salami said at a news conference in Kurdistan Province. "Borders are our redline, and any enemy violating these borders will not go back."
President Donald Trump responded to the attack Thursday morning in a tweet writing that Iran had "made a very big mistake!"
In a later press avail with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump said Iran had made a "big mistake" and that the drone was clearly flying in international airspace when it was shot down.
"Iran made a big mistake," Trump said. "They made a very bad mistake."
When asked whether the U.S. would respond to the downed drone or even go to war with Iran, Trump told reporters that they would "find out."
"Obviously, you know, we're not going to be talking too much about it. You'll find out. They made a very big mistake," Trump said.
The UN Secretary General Antonio Guteerres is reportedly "very concerned" about the drone downing in the gulf, asking all sides to "exercise maximum restraint."
"The Secretary-General is very concerned about developments in the Gulf region, including the reported downing of a United States drone by Iran. He appeals to all sides to exercise maximum restraint and avoid any action that can escalate the already tense situation," Guterres' spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.
The Secretary-General stresses that the world cannot afford a major confrontation in the Gulf region," she added.
Tensions in the region have escalated in recent weeks following an incident in which two oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman last week. U.S. officials say Iran is responsible for the attacks, releasing several photos that they say proves their guilt. Tehran has denied any responsibility for the attacks on the oil tankers.
The RQ-4A Global Hawk High-Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) is used to provide real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions over areas in which the U.S. is operating. The drones are built by Northrop Grumman and have the ability to fly for up to 30 hours at a time. The drone's wingspan is more than 131 feet and over 47 feet long. They've been used by the military since 2001.
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