The Pentagon on Thursday released an image showing the flight path for the drone that was shot down by Iran, in an effort to prove that the drone was shot down in international airspace.
“This was an unprovoked attack on a US surveillance asset that had not violated Iranian airspace at any time,” said Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, the commanding general of United States Air Forces Central Command.
Earlier on Thursday, Iran filed a complaint against the US, claiming the drone was on a spy mission over its territory and was shot down in Iranian airspace.
In a letter to the UN Secretary General and the Security Council, Iran’s UN Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi said a US drone entered Iranian airspace despite repeated radio warnings.
The drone, claimed the Iranian Ambassador, conducted “an overflight through the Strait of Hormuz to Chabahar port in a full stealth mode as it had turned off its identification equipment and engaged in a clear spying operation.”
US officials have denied that the drone had entered Iranian airspace and stated that the drone was shot down in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.
President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday that Iran “made a very big mistake!” in shooting down the American drone.
The shooting down of the American drone comes amid heightened tensions between the Islamic Republic and the US. On Wednesday, the Pentagon said that the latest deployment of 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East, announced earlier this week, will include a Patriot missile battalion, manned and unmanned surveillance aircraft and “other deterrence capabilities.”
“The United States does not seek conflict with Iran, but we are postured and ready to defend US forces and interests in the region,” a Pentagon spokeswoman said in a statement.
The US deployment was announced by the Pentagon following last week’s attacks on two tankers as they were passing through the Gulf of Oman.
Trump has said the twin attacks had Iran “written all over it”, rejecting Tehran’s vehement denial.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo similarly accused Iran of being behind the attacks in the Gulf of Oman. Iran’s parliament speaker, meanwhile, hinted that Washington could be behind the tanker attacks in an attempt to pile pressure on Tehran.
The ISR Flight path and grid plots for the RQ-4A shot down by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz. “This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset that had not violated Iranian airspace at any time …” – Lt Gen Joseph Guastella, @USAFCENT pic.twitter.com/uczI5HF68b
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) June 20, 2019