Fri, 19 Jul 2019

President Donald Trump says Iran has made a 'very big mistake' in shooting down a U.S. military drone with a surface-to-air missile.

'Iran made a very big mistake!' Trump said in a tweet hours after the June 20 incident.

The U.S. military said the downing of one of its drones by Iran early on June 20 was an 'unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace.'

A statement by U.S. Central Command on June 20 said the RQ-4A Global Hawk maritime surveillance drone was 'shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.'

The statement said Iranian claims that 'the aircraft was over Iran are false.'

Iran is disputing the circumstances around the downing of the unmanned aircraft, raising fears of a possible military confrontation amid heightened tensions between the two countries.

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said on June 20 that it had shot down a U.S. 'spy' drone that had turned off its tracking equipment as it flew over the southern province of Hormozgan -- saying the flight was a clear crossing of 'our red line.'

Recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and near the Strait of Hormuz have exacerbated the situation, with Washington blaming Iran for the incidents. Tehran denies any involvement.

Iran's Foreign Ministry came out with a strongly worded statement condemning such a "provocative" incursion into the country's airspace.

'Any such violations of Iran's borders are strongly condemned ... We warn of the consequences of such illegal and provocative measures,' ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said, according to state television.

Meanwhile, Iran-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen claimed they had struck a power station in Al-Shuqaiq city in Saudi Arabia's Jizan Province with a cruise missile.

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that any use of force by the United States against Iran 'would be a disaster for the region.'

"The United States has said it would not rule out the use of military force," Putin said during his annual call-in television program, warning that this would "lead to a surge of violence and possibly an increase in the number of refugees.'

Speaking to reporters in London, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that Iran's "aggressive behavior" has created a "very grave" situation, adding that the kingdom was consulting with allies on any further steps.

'When you interfere with international shipping, it has an impact on the supply of energy, it has an impact on the price of oil which has an impact on the world economy,' he said.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said President Donald Trump had been 'briefed on the reports of a missile strike in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.'

'We are closely monitoring the situation and continuing to consult with our partners and allies,' Sanders said.

Based on reporting by AP, dpa, Fox News, Interfax, and Reuters

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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