Two US officials said that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on Thursday, June 20th, shot down a US drone over international airspace in the Strait of Hormuz, while disputing the circumstances of the incident.
IRGC, which answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, alleged it shot down the drone on Thursday morning when it entered Iranian airspace near the Kouhmobarak district in southern Iran’s Hormozgan province.
Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency, citing the Guard, identified the drone as an RQ-4 Global Hawk. However, the US Navy also flies a variant that looks similar called the MQ-4C Triton.
According to AP, the US officials said that the Iranians fired a surface-to-air missile striking the American drone. The officials also stressed that the incident happened over the Strait of Hormuz in international airspace. The strait is the narrow mouth of the Arabian Gulf through which 20% of all global oil moves through.
The incident marks the first direct Iranian-claimed attack on the US amid the crisis.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as the information had yet to be cleared for release to the public. They did not elaborate on the type of drone shot down, nor the mission it was conducting. However, the US has been worried about international shipping through the Strait of Hormuz since the limpet mine attacks in May and June.
Previously, the US military said that Iran had fired a missile at another drone last week that was responding to the attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman near the Iranian coast. The US blames Iran for the attack on the ships.
The attacks come against the backdrop of heightened tensions between the US and Iran following President Trump’s decision to withdraw from Tehran’s nuclear deal a year ago.