Defense Minister Hatami says if U.S. has shot down a drone it should show its wreckage

No Iranian drone has been downed, IRGC chief reaffirms

July 24, 2019

TEHRAN – The chief of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has categorically rejected the U.S. claims on downing Iranian drones over the Persian Gulf.

“I officially announce that no drone belonging to Iran has been shot down,” Major General Hossein Salami said on Wednesday, according to IRNA.

His remarks came after U.S. Central Command Chief General Kenneth McKenzie said the U.S. may have brought down two Iranian drones during a stand-off in the Gulf last week.

“We are confident we brought down one drone, we may have brought down a second,” McKenzie told CBS news on Tuesday.

Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami also confirmed on Wednesday that no Iranian drone has been shot down.

Iran, which last month shot down an intruding U.S. drone, has denied that it lost any of its own unmanned aerial vehicles, after U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the USS Boxer had downed one.

General Salami said the drone, which the U.S. claimed it had shot down, was on a reconnaissance mission in the skies over Persian Gulf waters for three hours and 40 minutes and it sent images and videos of regional and trans-regional vessels – some of which were broadcast.

“Today, no one believes a word without evidence … The enemies, if they can, broadcast the footage of the downing and the wreckage of the drone,” Salami asserted.

Defense Minister Hatami also said, “We showcased the remains of the drone that we downed, and if anybody claims that he has downed our drone should show it.”

Earlier, the IRGC described the U.S. president’s claim as “ridiculous”, and declared that it would release the footage collected by its drone from the U.S. warship to prove the falsity of Washington’s claims.

“We will soon release the footage recorded by the IRGC Aerospace Force drone from the USS Boxer to expose Americans’ baseless claims to the public opinion of the world,” the public relations department of the IRGC announced.

“The footage will show that the drone of the IRGC’s Aerospace Force was conducting its routine mission in the region before the arrival of the American vessel at the Strait of Hormuz,” it said, adding that the drone has sent footage of its “monitoring the aforementioned ship both before and after the time that Americans claim”.

Trump’s claim has been refuted by a range of Iranian officials since it was first raised by Donald Trump at a White House event on Thursday. 

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said in a tweet, “We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else.”

“I am worried that USS Boxer has shot down their own UAS by mistake!” he said sarcastically.

Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi, a senior spokesman for the Iranian military, said on July 19 that Iran has not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz.

“Contrary to Trump’s delusional claim, all drones belonging to Iran in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, including the one mentioned by him, have returned to their bases safe and sound,” Shekarchi said.

Commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force Amir Ali Hajizadeh said on Sunday Trump’s lie about shooting down an Iranian drone was so big that even Iran believed it at first.

“After Trump’s claim about downing an Iranian drone, we checked with various units several times, because we could not believe that he himself would directly tell such a big lie to the media,” he said.

“Today, no one believes a word without evidence … The enemies, if they can, broadcast the footage of the downing and the wreckage of the drone,” General Salami asserted.

MH/PA

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