“I officially declare that no Iranian or IRGC drone has been downed,” General Salami told reporters in the Western city of Khorramabad on Wednesday.
He said that if the Americans claim that they have downed Iranian drones, they should prove it by displaying footage or the wreckages of the plane.
“I strongly assert that it is a big lie and we have proved it too. We have proved whatever we have done and enemies should prove their claims as well,” General Salami said.
He added that the drone that the Americans claim to have downed was flying over the Persian Gulf waters for 3 hours and 40 minutes for patrolling missions and sent footages of the regional and trans-regional vessels transiting through the Persian Gulf.
In relevant remarks on Wednesday, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami categorically rejected the claim by the US officials about shooting down the country’s drones in the Persian Gulf.
“No drone of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been downed,” General Hatami told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Tehran.
He added that the Iranian drones were conducting their mission on a regular basis.
“We displayed the wreckage of the (US) drone that we had shot down. If anyone claims that he has downed a drone of Iran, he should display it,” General Hatami said.
His remarks came after Fox News quoted the US officials as claiming that not one but two Iranian drones were downed by a US warship transiting the Strait of Hormuz last week.
One official claimed sailors and marines aboard USS Boxer, a large amphibious assault ship, could see one of the drones go down Thursday, adding that the other drone disappeared from radar and was believed destroyed.
US President Donald Trump had also claimed last week that the USS Boxer had fired on an Iranian drone on Thursday, shooting it down in the Strait of Hormuz.
“The Boxer took defensive action against an Iranian drone, which had closed into a near distance, approximately 1000 yards, ignoring multiple calls to stand down threatening safety of ship and ship’s crew,” he said at the White House.
The US president claimed that Iran’s drone “was immediately destroyed.”
Minutes later the Pentagon also issued a statement to confirm the report, but did not claim that the drone was Iranian.
The Pentagon claimed the Iranian drone was within a “threatening range” of the US ship.
“At approximately 10 am 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.”
The top military brass in Tehran rushed to deny the claim. Spokesman for the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi said on Friday that Trump’s statement was absurd and baseless, stressing that the false claim about downing an Iranian Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) was intended to increase tensions in international waterways and disrupting security in the Strait of Hormuz.
“Unlike Trump’s delusional and groundless claim, all drones belonging to the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, including the one mentioned by the US president, have returned to their bases safe and sound after carrying out their scheduled surveillance and control operations,” the Armed Forces mouthpiece added.
“The Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran always feel duty-bound to protect, control, and safeguard the security of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz with full vigilance while observing international regulations,” he added.
Hours later on Friday, the IRGC described the US president’s claim as “ridiculous”, and declared that it would release the footage collected by its drone from the US warship to prove the falsity of Washington’s claims.
“We will soon release the footage recorded by the IRGC Aerospace Force drone from the USS Boxer to expose Americans’ baseless claims to the public opinion of the world,” the public relations department of the IRGC announced.
“The footage will show that the drone of the IRGC’s Aerospace Force was conducting its routine mission in the region before the arrival of the American vessel at the Strait of Hormuz,” read the communique, adding that the drone has sent footage of its “monitoring and surveilling the aforementioned ship both before and after the time that Americans claim”.
The statement added that after recording the footage from the US warship, the drone returned to its base intact.
“The marine and aerospace units of the IRGC vigilantly and continuously monitor the moves by the foreigners, particularly the terrorist forces of the US and the UK in the strategic region, based on their legal duties and for establishing security in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf,” it added.
The IRGC reassured that with its complete intelligence dominance and preparedness, it would deliver a proportionate response to any act of aggression and violation of the international law.
The footage released by the IRGC had been recorded by the drone during a surveillance mission over the Strait of Hormuz over the USS Boxer.
IRGC Navy drones routinely fly over the strategic waterway of the Strait of Hormuz to ensure its security for free international maritime transportation.