Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have shot down two “Western spy” drones in the Gulf, the Fars news agency has said.
“Westerners have a series of capabilities which cannot be ignored, especially satellites, or for example they have spy planes which can take pictures in some places,” Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the air force wing of the Guards told the news agency on Sunday.
He said that the drones were mainly being used in Iraq and Afghanistan but “some violations against our soil” have also occurred.
“And we have so far downed many of their advanced spy planes. In the Persian Gulf, we have downed two of their (spy) planes and this is the first time that we are saying it,” Hajizadeh said without specifying when exactly the drones were shot down.
He also boasted that all “enemy” bases in the region were within range of Iranian missiles, referring to arch-foe the United States. He said that even the aircraft carriers deployed in the region were no longer a threat to Iran.
“There was a time when an aircraft carrier was something to rely on and when they told a country that this warship was moving towards your shore, the government of that country would be toppled,” Hajizadeh said.
“But now this has become a threat for them. We have full control of our enemies. We notice whatever changes taking place on our shores. When they go on alert in the warships or when they put on life jackets to launch boats in the sea, we are aware of that.”
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, target of a series of US sanctions, was set up as a force to defend the 1979 Islamic revolution from internal and external threats.
Washington imposed fresh sanctions against the Guards last month in a bid to ramp up pressure on Tehran over a controversial nuclear programme that Iran says is entirely peaceful, but world powers suspect is aimed at building an atomic bomb.
The US placed sanctions on entities linked to the Guards which included former energy minister and guards member Parviz Fattah. The Treasury Department also sanctioned Liner Transport Kish, for “providing material support, including weapons to Lebanese Hezbollah” on behalf of the Guards.
Guards’ commanders have repeatedly boasted of the their force’s capabilities and delivered warnings to regional foe Israel, which like the United States, has not ruled out a military strike to prevent Iran acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.
The US navy’s Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain, just across the Gulf from Iran. Iranian commanders have repeatedly threatened to block navigation through the strategic Strait of Hormuz, which links the Gulf to the Indian Ocean, if it comes under attack.
Sixty percent of the world’s oil supplies pass through the Strait of Hormuz.
The US military and Central Intelligence Agency regularly use drones to launch missile strikes in Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s lawless tribal belt, but do not generally confirm attacks.
The drone strikes are deeply unpopular among the Pakistani public but the United States says the strikes have killed a number of high-value targets.