The Hezbollah-affiliated "Al Miadin" news channel reported Thursday that an Israeli-made Hermes drone crashed near the Baghdad airport area. Representatives of the US embassy in Iraq arrived on the scene and collected the pieces of the broken aircraft, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
The Thursday morning incident was preceded by another incident
on Sunday, in which Iran's Revolutionary Guard said it shot down a purported Israeli drone near the country's uranium enrichment facility in Natanz, some 240 kilometers (150 miles) south of the capital, Tehran.
Satellite photo of the Natanz nuclear facility (Photo: AP)
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
On Wednesday, an Iranian general said that the purported Israeli drone shot down on Sunday flew in from a northern country that once was part of the Soviet Union.
The 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.
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.
Commenting on the drone shot down Sunday, state news agency ISNA said, citing a statement by Iran's Revolutionary Guards: "The downed aircraft was of the stealth, radar-evasive type and it intended to penetrate the off-limits nuclear area in Natanz ... but was targeted by a ground-to-air missile before it managed to enter the area," state news agency ISNA said, citing a statement by Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
The Natanz facility is one issue at the heart of a long-running dispute between Iran and countries that believe it is seeking nuclear weapons capability, something Tehran denies.
Iran and six world powers are trying to negotiate an end to the standoff which has led to damaging economic sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic.
Israel demands Iran be stripped of all nuclear technologies, something Tehran rules out and which most foreign diplomats deem unrealistic.
Iran has accused Israel and its allies in the West of assassinating its nuclear scientists and attacking its nuclear sites with computer viruses.
Israel has always declined comment on such accusations and on Sunday its military said it did not comment on foreign reports.
The Revolutionary Guards said of the drone incursion: "This wily act further exposed the Zionist regime's adventurous temperament and added yet another black page to a record filled with crime and mischief."
Reuters and Ynetnews contributed to this report.