THE LEVANT – An Iranian general said Wednesday that a purported Israeli drone shot down near a nuclear facility in the Islamic Republic flew in from a northern country that once was part of the Soviet Union.
The semi-official Fars news agency, close to the Revolutionary Guard, quoted Gen. Masoud Jazayeri making the allegation. It reported that Jazayeri, the deputy chief of staff in Iran’s armed forces, said the country must make “compensatory actions” or else be publicly named.
There are three former Soviet republics immediately north of Iran: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. Iran in the past had criticized Azerbaijan for its close ties with Israel and the country does operate drones like the one Iran said it shot down.
On Sunday, Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard said it shot down the purported Israeli drone near the country’s uranium enrichment facility in Natanz, some 240 kilometers (150 miles) south of the capital, Tehran. State television aired footage of the purported drone Monday and identified it as a Hermes 450 drone, which is manufactured in Israel.
Israeli officials have not commented on the incident.
Questions immediately arose about the drone after Sunday’s announcement, including how the aircraft could have flown all the way into Iran from Israel. It could have made the trip from one of Iran’s northern neighbors, however.
Fars quoted Jazayeri as saying Iran’s response will not be limited to shooting down the drone.
“We will respond to the enemy in the occupied lands,” he said, without elaborating.
Iran does not recognize Israel and supports militant groups like Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon, which both have fought wars against Israel.