Iran claims to have captured US drone aircraft spying over its territory
IRAN has captured a US drone that was flying in the country's airspace, according to local reports.
The ScanEagle drone was gathering information over Gulf waters and had entered Iranian airspace when it was captured by the naval unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Iran’s Fars news agency claimed.
The agency said the drone was captured sometime "in the last few days." It was not clear how it was captured.
"These kinds of aircraft are normally launched from large ships," said Ali Fadavi, the IRGC's naval commander.
A US Navy spokesman said they were aware of the reports, and were looking into them.
The ScanEagle is manufactured by Boeing and is four feet long with a 10-foot (three-metre) wingspan.
In November, the United States said Iranian warplanes shot at a US surveillance drone flying in international airspace. Iran said the aircraft had entered its airspace and warned it would respond "decisively" to any foreign encroachments into its airspace.
Also last month, Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammad Khazaee, wrote to Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to complain about repeated US violations of Iranian airspace, describing them as "illegal and provocative acts".
Khazaee claimed that US craft had entered southern Iran seven times in October around Bushehr where Iran's only nuclear power station is situated.
The United States and Iran are locked in an ongoing dispute over Tehran's nuclear programme. The US and its allies believe Tehran is trying to develop an atomic bomb, while Iran says its programme is purely peaceful.
Israel has threatened to bomb Iran's nuclear sites if diplomacy and sanctions fail to stop its nuclear activities.
In October, Israel shot down an Iranian-made drone launched into the Jewish state by Lebanese Islamist group Hezbollah.