TEHRAN: Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has captured a US ScanEagle drone over the Persian Gulf waters upon its intrusion into the Iranian airspace.
IRGC Navy Commander Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi made the announcement on Tuesday, adding that the Iranian armed forces enjoy full intelligence command over foreign movements in the Persian Gulf region.
Referring to the captured ScanEagle drone, the Iranian commander pointed out, Such drones are usually launched from large aircraft carriers.
The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, said it was "looking into" the Iranian claims but had no immediate comment beyond that.
But Al-Alam, the Arabic-language channel, showed two Guard commanders examining what appeared to be an intact ScanEagle drone.
In the footage, the two men then point to a huge map of the Persian Gulf in the background, showing the drone's alleged path of entry into Iranian airspace.
"We shall trample on the U.S," was printed over the map, next to the Guard's coat-of-arms.
If true, the seizure of the drone would be the third reported incident involving Iran and U.S. drones in the past two years.
A report on the website of the Wall Street Journal on Sunday cited US officials as saying that Washington has stepped up its spying operations on Bushehr nuclear plant in southern Iran "over the past two months". The report said that the increased spying missions by the US on the Iranian nuclear facility "has been conducted in part with the Pentagon's fleet of drones operating over the Persian Gulf."
Commander Fadavi further said that the IRGC Navy is fully monitoring all the movements of the foreign forces in the Persian Gulf and the strategic Strait of Hormuz to counter any potential threats against the country.
Earlier in December 2011, the Iranian military also grounded a US RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft while it was flying over the Iranian city of Kashmar, some 140 miles (225km) from the Afghan border.
The US RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft was downed with minimal damage by the Iranian Army's electronic warfare unit. The drone was one of America's most advanced spy aircraft.
The RQ-170 Sentinel drone, which is equipped with stealth technology, was captured almost intact. Tehran later said it recovered data from the top-secret drone.
In the case of the Sentinel, after initially saying only that a drone had been lost near the Afghan-Iran border, American officials eventually confirmed it had been monitoring Iran's military and nuclear facilities. Washington asked for it back but Iran refused, and instead released photos of Iranian officials studying the aircraft.
Last month, Iran repelled a US drone that had entered the countrys airspace above the territorial waters of the Islamic Republic in the Persian Gulf.
The Nov. 1 shooting in the Gulf was unprecedented, and further escalated tensions between the United States and Iran, which is under international sanctions over its suspect nuclear program.
Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Aerospace Division of the IRGC, said that the drone had been driven away by Iranian forces as it attempted to gather intelligence around Kharg Island in southern Iran.
Hajizadeh also warned that the countrys armed forces would respond with stronger action if US drones attempted to violate Irans airspace again. KO Monitoring Desk
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