Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps shot down a MQ-4 Global Hawk as it was gathering intelligence over the Strait of Hormuz. It is the second US drone downed by Iran and its allies since the beginning of June, and the third targeted. The attack occurs as tensions between the US and Iran rise in the region.
Iran’s IRGC claimed the drone “violated Iranian airspace in the Kuh Mobarak region located at Hormuzgan province,” according to the Islamic Republic News Agency, a mouthpiece for the Iranian regime.
The US Global Hawk was downed earlier today. The US and Iran differ over where the attack took place. US Central Command said the Global Hawk “shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.” CENTCOM described the attack as ““unprovoked” and denied Iranian claims that it was operating over its airspace.
The MQ-4 Global Hawk is a high altitude unmanned aerial vehicle that is used for reconnaissance and intelligence gathering and is capable of loitering over target areas for 30 hours.
Iran has stepped up attacks in the region as US sanctions over its nuclear program have crippled its economy. Six oil tankers have been targeted over the past several weeks. CENTCOM said it has evidence that the last two attacks, which took place in the Gulf of Oman on June 13, were carried out by the IRGC. An IRGC patrol boat was “observed and recorded removing the unexploded limpet mine” from one of the tankers.
Iranian forces have also launched at least two attacks against US drones operating in the region. On June 6, Houthi rebels in Yemen, which are backed by Iran, shot down an MQ-9 Reaper as it was patrolling. That shoot down “was enabled by Iranian assistance,” CENTCOM reported. On June 13, CENTCOM reported that the IRGC fired a surface-to-air missile at a US MQ-9 Reaper as it was observing one of the vessels involved in the June 13 attacks in the Gulf of Oman.
Attacks against US forces and civilians in Iraq have also picked up. US military personnel have been targeted in mortar and rocket attacks at least three times since last weekend. Yesterday, the headquarters of foreign oil companies were hit in a rocket strike. While no group has claimed responsibility, all of the attacks took place in areas where Iranian-backed Shia militias operate.
While the US military has increased its presence in the region to counter the Iranian threat, it has signaled that it does not want to fight Iran. The US military has not responded to any of the hostile actions of the Iranian regime.
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