United States confirms spy drone shot down by Iran in international airspace

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
The US has confirmed Iran shot down a MQ-4C Triton drone over international waters (Wikipedia/file pic)

The United States has confirmed Iranian claims that it had shot down one of its drones - but insists it was flying over international waters.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard had said it shot down what it identified as a RQ-4 Global Hawk that had entered its airspace near the Kouhmobarak district in southern Iran's Hormozgan province earlier this morning.

However, a US official said that the high-altitude drone - a US Navy MQ-4C Triton - was shot down by Iranian surface-to-air missile over the Strait of Hormuz in international airspace.

The alleged downing of the drone comes after an attack on two oil tankers near the Gulf of Oman (AP)

Kouhmobarak is some 750 miles south-east of Tehran and is close to the Strait of Hormuz.

Captain Bill Urban, a US Central Command spokesman, earlier declined to comment when asked if an American drone was shot down.

However, he added: "There was no drone over Iranian territory.”

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The downing of the drone comes after the US military previously alleged Iran fired a missile at another drone last week that responded to the attack on two oil tankers near the Gulf of Oman.

The US blames Iran for the attack on the ships, which Tehran denies.

These attacks come against the backdrop of heightened tensions between the US and Iran following Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers a year ago.

In recent weeks, the US has sped an aircraft carrier to the Middle East (Reuters)

Iran recently has quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium and threatened to boost its enrichment closer to weapons-grade levels, trying to pressure Europe for new terms to the 2015 deal.

In recent weeks, the US has sped an aircraft carrier to the Mideast and deployed additional troops to the tens of thousands already in the region.

Mysterious attacks also have targeted oil tankers as Iranian-allied Houthi rebels launched bomb-laden drones into Saudi Arabia.

All this has raised fears that a miscalculation or further rise in tensions could push the US and Iran into an open conflict, some 40 years after Tehran's Islamic Revolution.

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