Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards has claimed to have shot down a U.S. drone inside its airspace, in the Hormozgan province. It described the drone as a RQ-4 Global Hawk.
According to the English-language Press TV the U.S.-made surveillance drone was downed by a surface-to-air missile. But it did not show any evidence to back the claim, incuding pictures. The drone was shot down when it entered Iran's airspace near the Kouhmobarak district in the south," the Guards said in its website.
The RQ-4 Global Hawk, according to Military.com, is a high-altitude, long endurance unmanned aircraft with an integrated sensor suite that provides intelligence, survelliance and reconnaissance. "It complements manned and space reconnaissance systems by providing persistent near-real-time coverage using imagery intelligence and signals intelligence," the website said.
This latest incident, which was first reported by the Persian Gulf Nation, an Iranian state news agency, comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. The United States regards Iran as an imminent threat in the Middle East. Tensions between the two countries have steadily risen since the U.S. pulled out of a nuclear deal with Tehran in 2018, imposed economic sanctions and cut off Iran's oil exports. Iran recently said it would soon start stockpiling more more uranium than the deal had allowed. The country also plans to enrich nuclear fuel up to 20 percent, getting a step closer to "obtaining weapons-grade' material."
The U.S. military denied any of its aircraft were operating in the Iranian airspace. Captain Bill Urban from the U.S. Central Command said there was no drone over Iranian territory. Last week, the United States had alleged that Iran fired a missile at a drone that had responded to the scene of attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. also said at the time that Iran had shot down one of its drones earlier in international air space over the Gulf waters.
But the Associated Press reported quoting an unnamed U.S. official that a military drone was shot down by Iran in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.
The U.S. Navy has said the mines used in the attacks seemed to have come from Iran and the administration has blamed the country. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have also alleged Iran for the attacks. Four other oil tankers were attacked a few weeks earlier.
But Tehran has brushed off all claims and even went on to say that the U.S. could be the attacker, and blaming Iran for it. The Iranian leadership has denied any role in any of the attacks on the oil tankers.
President Donald Trump in an interview with TIME brushed off the oil tanker attacks as "very minor," but added that he would be willing to "go to war" to prevent Iran from obtaining the nuclear weapons.
This article originally appeared in IBTimes US.