Iran state TV shows pictures of downed US drone

Revolutionary Guards cmdr. stands with RQ 170, an unmanned aircraft belonging to US Iran claimed to have shot down.

By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
December 8, 2011 19:41
3 minute read.
Hajizadeh and downed US drone

Hajizadeh and downed US drone_311. (photo credit: FARS)

Iran’s state television showed pictures Thursday of a drone the Iranian military claimed it had shot down with an American flag hanging from it.

Revolutionary Guards Commander Ali Hajizadeh said on state TV that Iran’s military had tracked the unmanned aircraft, which had entered Iran’s eastern territory in order to carry out “spying missions.”

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“After it entered the eastern parts of the country, this aircraft fell into the trap of our armed forces and was downed in Iran with minimum damage,” he said according to the semi-official FARS news agency.

“With God’s help, we were able to bring down one of America’s most advanced planes... with minimal damage,” Hajizadeh told state television, standing in front of the drone.

The Revolutionary Guards commander said that the drone was controlled from the ground in bases in Afghanistan and the United States.

A NATO spokesperson had said shortly after Iran announced it was in possession of the drone that the RQ- 170 Sentinel may have been the same one that had gone missing during a mission in Afghanistan.



On Tuesday, the US said it appeared that Iran had possession of the drone, but said on Wednesday that a technical malfunction likely put the aircraft in Iranian hands.

According to FARS, the mission of the surveillance plane is still unknown. A US official said earlier this week that the drone was on a CIA mission, though the Pentagon and CIA both declined to comment on the incident.

The RQ-170 Sentinel, built by Lockheed Martin, was first acknowledged by the US Air Force in December 2009. It has a full-motion video sensor that was used this year by US intelligence to monitor al- Qaida leader Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan ahead of the raid that killed him.

Also on Thursday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Swiss ambassador, who represents US interests in the country, to condemn what it said was a US violation of its airspace, state television reported.

“Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Swiss ambassador on Thursday and strongly objected to America’s violation of the country’s airspace with a spy drone... Iran also demanded the American government’s explanation and compensatory action,” television said.

Washington has not had a mission in Iran since 1980, when Iranian students stormed its embassy and took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

The drone incident comes at a time when Tehran is trying to contain foreign outrage at an attack on the British embassy last week, after London imposed sanctions on Iran’s central bank over Iran’s disputed nuclear enrichment program.

Iran has announced several times in the past that it shot down US, Israeli or British drones, in incidents that did not provoke high-profile responses.

Tehran is at loggerheads with Washington and its allies over the Islamic state’s disputed nuclear program, which the West suspects is aimed at making nuclear weapons. Iranian officials deny the charge, saying the country wants nuclear technology to generate electricity.

The US and Israel have not ruled out military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities if diplomacy fails to resolve the row. Iran has said it would respond to any strike by attacking Israel and US interests in the Gulf.

In January Iran said it shot down two unmanned Western reconnaissance drones in the Gulf. In July Iran said it had shot down an unmanned US spy plane over the holy city of Qom, near its Fordu nuclear site.


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