Iran military implicitly confirms firing at US drone in Gulf
TEHRAN - Agence France-Presse
AFP photoA top Iranian military official implicitly confirmed today a Pentagon claim that two Iranian fighter jets fired on an unarmed US Predator drone in the Gulf last week, AFP reported.
"The defenders of the Islamic Republic of Iran will decisively respond to any aerial, ground or marine aggression," Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri, the armed forces deputy chief, told Sepahnews.com, the Revolutionary Guards' website.
"If any aircraft tries to enter our space, our armed forces will confront it," he added, when asked to respond to the claim.
Pentagon spokesman George Little said on Tuesday the Iranian Su-25 Frogfoot fighters fired at the drone on November 1 but did not hit it.
"They intercepted the aircraft and fired multiple rounds," Little said.
It was unclear whether the Iranians intended to warn off the unmanned drone but Little said: "Our working assumption is that they fired to take it down." The drone was "never in Iranian air space" and came under fire off the Iranian coast over international waters, Little said.
In a warning to Tehran, Little said the United States was prepared to safeguard its forces.
The confrontation threatened to derail diplomatic efforts to defuse a mounting crisis over Tehran's nuclear programme, amid a shadow war of cyberattacks, bombings and assassinations.
Tough new sanctions led by Washington are squeezing Iran's economy, while the United States and Israel are accused of staging cyber sabotage on Tehran's uranium enrichment plants.