Iran denies drone shot down by U.S. in Strait of Hormuz, warns against rising tensions

Source: Xinhua| 2019-07-19 17:42:18|Editor: Lu Hui
Video PlayerClose

TEHRAN, July 19 (Xinhua) -- Iran on Friday denied the White House claim that the U.S. Navy has shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz and warned against rising tensions in the region.

On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that a U.S. warship destroyed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz in a "defensive act."

"Despite the illusory claims by (the U.S. President Donald) Trump, all the drones belonging to the Islamic republic in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz region, including the drone which Trump talks about, have returned safely to their bases (on Thursday) after their reconnaissance missions," the Spokesman for the Iranian Armed Forces Sardar Abolfazl Shekarchi said in a statement on Friday.

"The baseless remarks of the U.S. president aim at creating tension and insecurity in the important region of the Gulf and the strategic waterway of Strait of Hormuz," he said.

Iranian Armed Forces are "legally" duty-bound to protect the security of the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz with vigilance and in accordance to the international regulations, Shekarchi added.

Speaking at the White House on Thursday, Trump said that USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship of the U.S. Navy, destroyed the drone that threatened the U.S. warship by flying within 1,000 yards of it and ignored multiple warnings.

Trump said the drone was "threatening the safety of the ship and the ship's crew," calling the downing a "defensive action."

Abbas Araqchi, the Iranian deputy foreign minister, on Friday denied that an Iranian drone has been shot down by the U.S. Navy in the Strait of Hormuz.

"We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else," Araqchi tweeted.

"I am worried that USS Boxer has shot down their own UAS by mistake," he said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters at the UN headquarters on Thursday that "we have no information about losing a drone today."

The claims for downing the Iranian drone came as Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) announced earlier on Thursday that it had seized a foreign ship "smuggling fuel" in the Gulf.

The news also came one month after a U.S. drone operating over the Strait of Hormuz was shot down by Iranian air defense system, which almost led to a U.S. military buildup in the region against Iran.

The United States has been upgrading its military posture in the Middle East since May by sending troops and military assets to the region. Pentagon claimed these measures are "prudent response to credible threats from Iran" and for "defensive purpose."

On Thursday, the chief commander of the IRGC warned against the possibility of a change in Iran's military strategy "from the current defensive strategy toward an offensive one," according to Press TV.

"As far as the strategy is concerned, we act defensively, meaning that we will not be the one to start or initiate any war," Major General Hossein Salami said during a visit to an area near the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday.

"The situation is, however, completely opposite when it comes to (Iran's) tactical attitude, and should enemies commit any miscalculation, our defensive strategy would turn into an offensive one," Salami said.

Iranian foreign minister also said Wednesday that Iran will not be a war starter but will defend its territory against any aggression.

"Anybody who starts a war with Iran will not be the one who ends it," he said, referring to the escalating tensions between Iran and the United States amid U.S. military buildup in the region.