“Very big mistake”: Trump responds to US drone downing

“Very big mistake”: Trump responds to US drone downing

United States President Donald Trump has said Iran “made a very big mistake” by shooting down a US drone, while Iran has defended the action and pledged to “zealously defend our skies, land and waters.”

Washington claims the high altitude surveillance drone was flying in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday when it was shot down, but Tehran alleges the aircraft ventured into Iranian airspace over its coastal Hormozgan Province.

“Iran made a very big mistake,” Mr Trump told reporters at the White House.

“This country will not stand for it, that I can tell you.”

When asked if his administration would respond, the President replied: “You’ll soon find out.”

However, he also appeared to downplay the incident by saying it could have been an accident perpetrated by someone who was “loose and stupid”.

“I think probably Iran made a mistake — I would imagine it was a general or somebody that made a mistake in shooting that drone down,” he said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif took to Twitter to present Tehran’s side of the story, claiming the US is waging economic terrorism on the oil-rich country and now trying to encroach on Iran’s territory.

He tweeted:

Mr Zarif also tweeted what he claimed are the drone’s coordinates at the time it was shot down, which places the aircraft within Iranian airspace.

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) has disputed Iran’s claims as “false” and said the incident “was an unprovoked attack on a US surveillance asset in international airspace”.

CENTCOM commander Lieutenant General Joseph Guastella said the done was 34km from the nearest Iranian territory when it was hit.

He called the attack “an attempt to disrupt our ability to monitor the area following recent threats to international shipping and free flow of commerce.”

The aircraft’s location has not yet been established independently.

General Hossein Salami, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said the Islamic Republic did not seek war with the US, but added: “We are fully ready for war.”

“Borders are our red line,” General Salami said in a public address.

“Any enemy that violates the borders will be annihilated.”

The downing of the drone follows the US Military’s allegation that Iran fired a missile at another drone last week that was responding to the attack on two oil tankers near the Gulf of Oman.

The US also blames Iran for the attack on the oil tankers.

Relations between Washington and Tehran have rapidly deteriorated since the Trump Administration unilaterally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) last year, a deal which limits Iran’s nuclear activity to civilian applications in exchange for sanctions relief.

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