Iran‘s air defense force has shot down a ‘foreign’ drone in the country’s southwest, the official IRNA news agency reported today.
The agency claimed the drone was shot out of the sky early Friday at the port city of Mahshahr, which is in the oil-rich Khuzestan province and lies on the Persian Gulf.
Provincial governor Gholamreza Shariati told IRNA that the drone belonged to a ‘foreign’ country and that parts of the drone had been recovered in a nearby lagoon.
The unmanned aircraft was downed with a domestically manufactured Mersad surface-to-air missile, said Tasnim news agency which is close to the ultra-conservatives.
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Iranian air defense forces hit the drone in the early morning at the port city of Mahshahr, which is in the oil-rich Khuzestan province and lies on the Persian Gulf (pictured: file photo of an Iranian Bavar-373 air defense missile being launched in August)
The port city of Bandar-e Mahshahr, close to the Iraqi border on the Persian Gulf, debris from the drone was said to have landed in a nearby lagoon
File photo of a US MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) taxis during a training mission at Creech Air Force Base on November 17
In June, Iran shot down a U.S. surveillance drone in the Strait of Hormuz.
Tehran said the drone ‘violated’ its territorial airspace, while the U.S. called the missile fire ‘an unprovoked attack’ in international airspace over the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf.
Regional tensions remain high over Tehran’s collapsing nuclear deal with world powers, which the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from over a year ago.
Neither news agency gave any further details of the incident which comes amid soaring tensions between Tehran and Washington since President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned a landmark 2015 nuclear deal last year and reimposed crippling sanctions.
In June, Iran shot down a U.S. surveillance drone in the Strait of Hormuz (pictured: Iran displaying the downed US drone earlier this year)
Trump in June authorized a military strike after Iran shot down a US drone, only to call off the retaliation at the last moment.
The crisis deepened with the September 14 attacks on Saudi energy giant Aramco’s Abqaiq processing plant and Khurais oilfield which halved the kingdom’s crude output.
Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels claimed responsibility, but the US says the attacks involved cruise missiles from Iran and amounted to ‘an act of war’.
Iran has denied involvement and warned the US any attack will spark an ‘all-out war’ with immediate retaliation from Tehran.
Washington has responded with a military build-up in the Gulf and put troops in place to support its allies in Saudi Arabia.
The Abqaiq oil processing facility (pictured on fire) and Khurais oil field in Saudi Arabia were both rocked by explosions on September 14 which cut off 5 per cent of the world’s supplies
It has also put in place more stringent sanctions to target the already strangled Central Bank of Iran.
Since May the United States has increased its 70,000-strong presence in the Middle East by 14,000 personnel, according to Pentagon figures, most of them deployed to the Gulf region.
The deployment could further aggravate Iran, which has responded to previous U.S. troop deployments this year with apprehension.