Iran denies US destroyed one of its drones

Iran denies US destroyed one of its drones
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Iran denied Friday the U.S.’s claim from the day before that the Navy had shot down an Iranian drone amid high tensions between Washington and Tehran.

“We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else,” tweeted Abbas Araghchi, the deputy Iranian foreign minister. “I am worried that USS Boxer has shot down their own [unmanned aerial system] by mistake!”

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGraham: America must 'accept the pain that comes in standing up to China' Weld 'thrilled' more Republicans are challenging Trump New data challenges Trump's economic narrative MORE had announced on Thursday that the drone was shot down in a “defensive action” after “ignoring multiple calls to stand down.”

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"The drone was immediately destroyed," Trump said. "This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters."

The Defense Department said in a later statement that the Iranian drone was in “threatening range” of the USS Boxer.

“At approximately 10 a.m. local time, the amphibious ship USS Boxer was in international waters conducting a planned inbound transit of the Strait of Hormuz,” chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement. “A fixed wing unmanned aerial system (UAS) approached Boxer and closed within a threatening range. The ship took defensive action against the UAS to ensure the safety of the ship and its crew.”

But, as reported by The Guardian, military spokesman Gen. Abolfazl Shekari was quoted Friday  saying that “all Iranian drones that in are in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz … have returned to their bases.”

The Iranian Revolution Guard said it plans to release images taken by the drone from both before and after the U.S. says it was shot down, according to The Associated Press.

A Trump administration official told Reuters that "we have very clear evidence" that the Boxer shot down an Iranian drone. 

"We're confident," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. 

"If they fly too close to our ships, they’ll continue to be shot down," they added.

Already strained relations between Iran and the U.S. worsened further last month after Iran shot down a U.S. surveillance drone it said was flying over its airspace.

Trump nearly launched a military strike in response, but later said he called it back at the eleventh hour when he decided the estimated death toll would have been disproportionate.

—Updated at 11:19 a.m.