RNA - “The US interventionist measures and provocative acts by some of its regional allies, including the Zionist regime and Saudi Arabia, are threatening the regional peace and stability. The US will end up paying dearly if a war erupts,” General Rashid, Commander of Khatam ol-Anbia Headquarters, said.
He reiterated that Iran doesn’t embrace war, but is ready to defend the nation's interest in the face of any threat and aggression.
General Rashid noted that the downing of the US Global Hawk spy drone in the Iranian airspace was a clear example of "courageous defense" by Iran.
"The US will pay a high cost if a war starts in the region," the senior commander added.
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ (IRGC) Aerospace Force shot down an American spy drone over the territorial waters of Iran near the Strait of Hormuz at dawn on Thursday.
The United States had confirmed that one of its reconnaissance planes was shot down by Iranian air defenses, but denied that it intruded into Tehran’s airspace at the time.
Also, US President Donald Trump said the US air force was “cocked and loaded” to attack three Iranian targets on Friday morning, but he called off the strike with 10 minutes to spare after being told that the airstrike might kill as many as 150 people.
According to Fars News Agancy, Trump said in a series of tweets that he decided late on Thursday that the death toll was not a proportionate response to the Iranian shooting down of a US spy drone off the Iranian coast 24 hours earlier.
After Trump's remarks, Commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said that his forces could have shot down a US P8 aircraft with 35 on board which was violating Iran’s airspace, but decided to shoot down the drone to only send a message to Washington.
“We intended to send a message to American terrorists in the region,” Brigadier General Hajizadeh said on Friday, adding that his forces had also traced a military P8 aircraft violating the airspace of Iran.
“Along with the American drone was an American P8 aircraft with 35 on board, and it was also violating our airspace and we could have downed it too,” he said, adding, “But we did not do (shoot down) it, because our aim was to warn the terrorist forces of the US.”
General Hajizadeh also stressed on Saturday that Iran was not after war but was fully ready to defend itself, adding that the fate of the downed US spy drone was waiting for any intruding flying object.
“Our response to anything trespassing Iranian territory is like this, and if such acts of aggression are repeated, our response will also be the same," General Hajizadeh said.
“We don’t embrace war but we are ready to fully defend the country,” he said.
"We possess a collection of US drones which is a proof that US has violated Iran’s airspace and shows that they don’t want to respect the international law,” General Hajizadeh said.
“If such an aggression is repeated, we will add other US (military) products to complete this collection,” he noted.
“The US measure was in violation of international law and we acted according to our legitimate responsibility,” General Hajizadeh said, adding, “It is possible that a US general or some operators were behind this American aggression, we don’t know that. But that measure (intruding into Iranian airspace) is a violation of international aviation rules by a spy drone which then received our natural response."
On Thursday evening, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that his country had retrieved parts of the US Global Hawk that was shot down from the country's territorial waters, rejecting Washington's claim that the aircraft was targeted in international waters.
"(The) US drone took off from UAE in stealth mode and violated Iranian airspace," Zarif wrote on Twitter, adding that the Global Hawk drone "was targeted near... Kouh-e Mobarak" region in the Central district of Jask in Hormuzgan province after the aircraft violated Iran's airspace.
Zarif even provided the coordinates where the US aircraft was intercepted, and added, "We've retrieved sections of the US military drone in OUR territorial waters where it was shot down."
In an earlier tweet, Zarif stated that Iran "will take this US new aggression to (the) UN and show that the US is lying about international waters".
The Iranian foreign minister noted that Tehran does not want war, "but will zealously defend our skies, land and waters".
Commander of the IRGC Major General Hossein Salami stressed that the move should alert Washington officials to stay away.
The incident sent "a clear message" to the US and other enemies that Iran will show a firm and crushing response to any aggression, Salami stated.
"Borders are our red lines and any enemy which violates them will not go back home and will be annihilated. The only way for enemies is to respect Iran's territorial integrity and national interests," the major general noted.