Iran is threatening to shoot down more American drones as the US turns up the pressure on Tehran with new sanctions
- Iranian generals, commanders of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), are warning that Iran will shoot down more US drones if they enter Iranian airspace, a violation that the US has repeatedly denied.
- "We possess a collection of US drones ... If such an aggression is repeated, we will add other US (military) products to complete this collection," one commander told Iranian media.
- The latest threat follows an incident last week in which Iran shot down a US Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS-D) intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft, specifically a RQ-4A Global Hawk.
- President Trump reportedly ordered a cyber attack on Iran's air-defense systems and said Monday he's imposing new sanctions targeting Iran's supreme leader.
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The Iranian military shot down a US drone last week, and now an Iranian general is warning that it will continue to shoot US assets out of the sky if it feels the need to do so.
Iranian forces shot down a US Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS-D) intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft, specifically a RQ-4A Global Hawk high-altitude, long-endurance drone, with a surface-to-air missile late last Wednesday.
The incident came just days after the Iranian military took a shot at a US MQ-9 Reaper drone and missed.
As Iran repeated its threats, President Donald Trump said Monday he was imposing new sanctions on Iran's supreme leader and his office, saying Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is responsible for Iran's "hostile conduct." Iran has called the mounting US sanctions "economic terrorism," and Trump's move is likely to ratchet up pressure on the Iranian regime, which could attack oil tankers or drones again.
The US sanctions targeted senior IRGC leaders, whom the US Treasury said were "responsible for downing the US unmanned aircraft."
While the US claims that the Global Hawk drone was shot down in international airspace, Tehran argues that the aircraft entered its airspace, justifying its aggressive response.
"Our response to anything trespassing Iranian territory is like this," Brig. Gen. Hajizadeh, an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Gorps commander, said Sunday, according to Iranian media. "If such acts of aggression are repeated, our response will also be the same."
"We don't embrace war but we are ready to fully defend the country," he said, "We possess a collection of US drones ... If such an aggression is repeated, we will add other US products to complete this collection."
Iran captured a RQ-170 Sentinel drone in 2011, later reverse-engineering it to develop some of their own unmanned systems.
"Borders are our red lines and any enemy which violates them will not go back home and will be annihilated," Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, another IRGC commander, added. The problem is that the borders of Iran's airspace for Tehran are, in some cases, inconsistent with those recognized by the international community.
Hajizadeh suggested last week that Iran had been merciful in its decision to only shoot down the drone. He said that the unmanned aircraft was accompanied by a US P-8A Poseidon aircraft. "We could have downed it too," he said, claiming that he could have killed all 35 people on board. (This maritime patrol aircraft doesn't carry a crew anywhere close to that large.)
The US military confirmed to Business Insider that another aircraft was accompanying the drone, but refused to identify it.
The shoot-down followed a string of attacks on tankers in the Middle East, attacks the US has blamed on the Iranians. Iran has rejected the allegations. As the first Iranian attack on a US asset in the region since tensions began to rise early last month, the shoot-down marked a major escalation.
The US began moving additional military assets into US Central Command in early May in response to intelligence reports pointing to the possibility of Iranian attacks on US forces and interests in the Middle East.
The White House issued a statement at the time warning that any Iranian attack would be met with "unrelenting force."
Trump tweeted Friday that the US military was "cocked and loaded" for a retaliatory strike, but he called off the attack at the last minute, arguing that taking as many as 150 lives in response to an attack on an unmanned airplane would have been a disproportionate response to Iranian aggression.