The commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said on Thursday his forces shot down an American reconnaissance drone in international airspace to send a “clear, decisive, firm, and accurate message” to the United States and boasted his forces are “completely ready for war.”
“Shooting down the American spy drone had a clear, decisive, firm and accurate message. The message is that the guardians of the borders of Islamic Iran will decisively respond to the violation of any stranger to this land,” said Gen. Hossein Salami, commander of the IRGC, which has been designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
“The only solution for the enemies is to respect the territorial integrity and national interests of Iran. Borders are our redline and any enemy violating these borders will not go back,” he said.
The IRGC claimed the drone penetrated Iranian airspace before it was fired upon, but the U.S. military said on Thursday the attack was unprovoked and occurred in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz. Iran periodically threatens to attack shipping in the strait or blockade it entirely.
“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,” Salami said.
The IRGC released a statement on Thursday morning that claimed the drone was “breaking all aerospace rules and hiding its identification, which is against all aviation rules.”
“While returning to the western Hormuz Strait’s region the drone violated Iran’s airspace and engaged in information-gathering and spying. At 4.05 a.m. local time while the violating airplane was over Iranian territory it was shot down by IRGC,” the statement said, giving the local time for the attack.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry continued claiming the drone violated Iranian airspace on Thursday.
“We give a decisive warning against the illegal and aggressive entry of any foreign intruding object and aircraft into the country’s sky, and against any violation of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s territories,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi.
“We strongly condemn this kind of aggressive and provocative action. We warn against any violation of Iran’s airspace by foreign flying objects and declare that violators are responsible for the consequences of their actions,” Mousavi said.