The Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) on Thursday shot down an unarmed and unmanned US RQ-4A Global Hawk drone it claimed was flying in Iranian airspace.
“The drone violated Iran’s airspace and engaged in information gathering and spying,” said the IRGC (a designated terrorist organization).
US officials said the drone was conducting surveillance in international airspace near the Strait of Hormuz – a key shipping route through which 20% of all oil moves.
When asked early Thursday afternoon whether the US would strike back, President Trump suggested the attack may have been a mistake. “I would imagine it was a general or somebody who made a mistake in shooting the drone down,” said Trump. “I think they made a mistake and I’m not just talking about the country made a mistake; somebody under the command of the country made a mistake.”
Mistake or not, the incident is the first direct attack on US assets for which Iran has claimed responsibility in four decades.
Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, head of US Air Force Central Command, described the attack as “an attempt to disrupt our ability to monitor the area following recent threats to international shipping and the free flow of commerce.”
IRGC Commander General Hossein Salami said the attack carries a clear message to the US: “The message is that the guardians of the borders of Islamic Iran will decisively respond to the violation of any stranger to this land. The only solution for the enemies is to respect the territorial integrity and national interests of Iran.” Salami added that Iran “does not intend to engage in war with any country,” but is “completely ready for war.”
In a separate accusation, Saudi Arabia on Thursday blamed Iran-allied Houthi rebels for a rocket attack targeting a desalination plant.
Saudi Arabia has been fighting the Houthis in Yemen since March 2015. In recent weeks, the Houthis have started launching missiles and bomb-laden drones into the kingdom from Yemen.
Earlier this month, the US and SA agreed that Iran is responsible for an attack on a group of oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz on May 12th. Days before the attack, the Pentagon had dispatched an aircraft carrier to the region. This week, Trump deployed an additional 1,000 troops in response to Iran’s “hostile behavior.”
On June 17th, Iran announced it had “quadrupled” uranium enrichment and would soon exceed the stockpile limits outlined in the JCPOA.
Editor’s note: Trump is pissed, and appears to be planning a “measured response.” He has offered Iran a way out by saying that he thinks this was not an official policy of Iran but rather a “mistake” by an underling, they have but to make nice, and things will calm down. However, at this point I believe he plans to breaks some of Iran’s toys, without killing anyone.