WASHINGTON — Iran’s government confirmed Friday that two of its warplanes fired at a U.S. surveillance drone flying over the Persian Gulf, but contradicted Pentagon claims that the unarmed aircraft — which was not damaged — was in international airspace when attacked.
Iran’s defense minister, Ahmad Vahidi, said an unidentified aircraft was detected above Iranian territorial waters on Nov. 1, but it was forced to flee “due to the timely, quick and decisive action of the Iranian armed forces," according to the official Press TV news agency.
The attack marked the first known episode in which Iranian jets shot at a remotely piloted U.S. spy plane, and it raised tensions in the volatile region. Washington and Tehran broke diplomatic relations in 1979, so the Obama administration has lodged a formal protest via the Swiss Embassy in Tehran.
Pentagon officials did not initially disclose the attack because, they said, it involved a classified mission.