TEHRAN, June 20 (Xinhua) -- Iran's Foreign Ministry on Thursday strongly condemned the "violation of the Iranian air space by a U.S. surveillance drone."
"We warn against any infiltration of flying objects into the Iranian airspace and violation of the country's territory," Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in a statement referring to the reports that the armed forces of the country downed a U.S. "spy" drone earlier in the day.
"The aggressors would be responsible for the consequences" of such acts, said Mousavi.
On Thursday, Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) announced that its air force downed "a U.S. RQ-4 Global Hawk spy drone" when it entered Iran's airspace near Mobarak Mountain region in southern coastal Hormozgan province.
According to the IRGC statement cited by the Iranian state TV, the drone had flown from one of the U.S. bases south of the Gulf "with its identification transponders off in breach of all international aviation rules."
"The drone had stealthily continued on the route from the Strait of Hormuz toward Iran's port city of Chabahar," it was cited as saying.
"While returning toward west of the Strait of Hormuz, the drone violated Iran's territorial airspace and began gathering intelligence," the statement said.
The drone was then targeted and shot down by the IRGC's surface-to-air missile, it added.
However, a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command denied the news, saying that "there was no drone over Iranian territory" on Thursday.
In the meantime, the U.S. military confirmed that "one of its unmanned aircraft had been taken down, but said it was in international airspace. The official said the drone was a U.S. navy MQ-4C Triton" which builds on elements of the RQ-4 Global Hawk.
The RQ-4 Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system with an integrated sensor suite that provides intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability worldwide.
Global Hawk's mission is to provide a broad spectrum of ISR collection capability to support joint combatant forces in worldwide peacetime, contingency and wartime operations.
Hossein Salami, chief commander of the IRGC, said that the U.S. drone downed on Thursday had crossed the Iranian borders.
Salami said that downing of the U.S. drone has a clear message that Iran will defend its sovereignty.
The downed U.S. drone had violated Iran's airspace and was spying on the space of Iran's Bandar Abbas port city, said Salami.
"Borders are our redline, and any enemy violating our borders will not go back unhurt," said Salami, adding that "any foreign intrusion into Iran's territory would draw a crushing response."
"The only way for the enemies (to consider) is to respect Iran's sovereignty of borders and its vital interests," he stressed.
Tensions have been deepened between the United States and the Islamic republic in the region over past months following the U.S. slap of unprecedented sanctions against the Islamic republic and dispatch of aircraft carrier, bomber task force and amphibious assault ship to the region.
On Monday, the Pentagon announced that Washington will send 1,000 additional U.S. forces to the Middle East region.
Salami said that Iran is not seeking war with any country, but it is fully prepared to confront any aggression.