Iran has ratcheted up the tension with the United States of America by stating that its forces also had the option of shooting down a P-8 Poseidon long-range anti-submarine warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft of the former that was allegedly violating its airspace but instead chose to down an American drone to just send a message.
"We intended to send a message to American terrorists in the region. Along with the American drone was an American P-8 aircraft with 35 on board, and it was also violating our airspace and we could have downed it too. But we did not do it, because our aim was to warn the terrorist forces of the US," Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force Commander Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh was on Friday quoted as saying by Iran's Fars News Agency.
Iran's IRGC Aerospace Force had shot down a US BAMS-D RQ-4A Global Hawk High-Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) on Thursday, claiming that the drone had violated its airspace.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif late on Thursday evening also said that the debris of the US drone had been retrieved from Iran's territorial waters where it was shot down proving that the aircraft was violating his country's airspace. He added that Iran does not want war but his country would "zealously defend" its skies, land and waters.
"At 00:14 US drone took off from UAE in stealth mode & violated Iranian airspace. It was targeted at 04:05 at the coordinates (25°59'43"N 57°02'25"E) near Kouh-e Mobarak. We've retrieved sections of the US military drone in OUR territorial waters where it was shot down," Zarif tweeted.
At 00:14 US drone took off from UAE in stealth mode & violated Iranian airspace. It was targeted at 04:05 at the coordinates (25°59'43"N 57°02'25"E) near Kouh-e Mobarak.
We've retrieved sections of the US military drone in OUR territorial waters where it was shot down. pic.twitter.com/pJ34Tysmsg
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) June 20, 2019
IRGC Commander Major General Hossein Salami warned the US to stay away from Iran. "Borders are our red lines and any enemy which violates them will not go back home and will be annihilated. The only way for enemies is to respect Iran's territorial integrity and national interests," he said.
After initially claiming that its drones were not flying in the region, the United States Central Command admitted that a US Navy surveillance aircraft was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system on June 19. However, the US added that the RQ-4A Global Hawk was not over Iran and was flying in the international airspace.
"US Central Command can confirm that a US Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (or BAMS-D) ISR aircraft was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz at approximately 11:35 p.m. GMT on June 19, 2019. Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false. This was an unprovoked attack on a US surveillance asset in international airspace. The BAMS-D is a RQ-4A Global Hawk High-Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) and provides real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions (ISR) over vast ocean and coastal regions," a US Central Command statement said.