Iran refrained from targeting US plane with 35 on board flying beside downed drone – commander
The commander of the Iranian Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps claims that the downing of a US drone was a warning to an American military aircraft that was flying alongside its UAV.
Brigadier General Hajizadeh told state TV that the main reason for shooting down the drone, which marked a serious escalation in tensions with the US, was to force the American P-8 military aircraft to divert course, according to Iranian media.
Hajizadeh also claims that there were some 35 personnel on board the US P-8, though he did not cite a source for this figure. In addition, he alleges that the US military was warned twice of an impending strike against the aircraft if they did not change course.
“Twice we… sent warnings,” Hajizadeh said, as cited by AFP.
Hajizadeh added that even the US military’s autonomous drone had the capabilities to relay messages to its operators thousands of miles away.
“This aircraft possesses a system which allows it to relay the signals and information it receives to its own central system,” he said, adding that the order was given only after the aircraft finally entered Iranian airspace at 4:05am local time.
On Friday afternoon, the Iranian military showcased the wreckage of the US drone.
Washington maintains that its aircraft was shot down above international waters.
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