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UN chief urges restraint after US drone downed

AP , Thursday 20 Jun 2019
Antonio Guterres
UN says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (Photo: AP)
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The UN says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is urging all parties to “exercise maximum restraint” and avoid any further escalation following Iran’s shooting down of an American drone.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Thursday that Guterres is “very concerned” and is calling on the parties to “avoid any action that could inflame the situation.”

Dujarric said the secretary-general stresses again “that the world cannot afford a major conflict in that area.”

Iran said the unmanned US Navy drone “violated” its territorial airspace, while the US called its downing an “unprovoked attack” in international airspace over the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf.

Asked whether there should be an investigation and who should carry it out, Dujarric said: “Obviously the facts need to be established. ... Various parties are looking into the issue right now.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is appealing to “all peace-loving countries” to support American efforts to halt what he called escalating Iranian provocations.

Speaking Thursday at a reception for the New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Netanyahu said that “in the last 24 hours, Iran has intensified its aggression against the United States and against all of us,” adding that “Israel stands by the United States on this.”

He spoke shortly after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down a US surveillance drone in the Strait of Hormuz. Heightened tensions in recent weeks have raised fears of war between the two countries.

Israeli officials have welcomed Washington’s mounting pressure on Tehran, but steered clear of calling for a conflagration that might put Israel in the line of fire.

The US military’s Central Command has confirmed that Iranian forces shot down a US drone, an RQ-4 Global Hawk, saying the downing took place in international airspace and describing it as an “unprovoked attack.”

A statement from CENTCOM says the unmanned aircraft — an RQ-4A Global Hawk maritime surveillance drone — was “shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz” early on Thursday.

The statement further said that “Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false” and that “this was an unprovoked attack on a US surveillance asset in international airspace.”

Iran’s foreign ministry has warned the United States over violating Iranian airspace after the Revolutionary Guard shot down a US drone earlier in the day.

A ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, is quoted by the semi-official Tasnim news agency as saying that Iran cannot condone the “illegal trespassing and invading of the country’s skies by any kind of foreign flying object.”

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard says it shot down the American drone over Iranian airspace, while US officials say it happened over international airspace in the Strait of Hormuz.

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