Last Updated: Tue Jan 04, 2011 07:08 am (KSA) 04:08 am (GMT)

Iran guards shoot down two 'western spy' drones

Top Rev. Guard says Western drones had violated Iran's airspace
Top Rev. Guard says Western drones had violated Iran's airspace

Iran has shot down two unmanned western reconnaissance drone aircraft in the Gulf, a senior Revolutionary Guards commander told the semi-official Fars news agency on Sunday.

"Many spy planes and advanced planes of our enemies have been shot down (by our forces) ... We have also shot down two spy planes in the Persian Gulf," Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the air force wing of the Guards said. "But it is the first time we are announcing it."

He did not say when the hostile aircraft had been shot down, but described them as "western drone reconnaissance" aircraft.

"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,” Hajizadeh added.

He said that the drones were mainly being used in Iraq and Afghanistan but "some violations against our soil" have also occurred.

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 U.S. sanctions, was set up as a force to defend the 1979 Islamic revolution from internal and external threats.

Its commanders have repeatedly boasted its 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.

Many Western governments believe Iran's nuclear program may be a covert bid to make a bomb, a charge Tehran denies.

The U.S. 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 U.S. 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.

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