Iran issues new threat of downing more US drones

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Iran's naval chief is threatening the United States, saying Tehran is capable of shooting down other American spy drones such as the one downed last week by Revolutionary Guard forces.


The semi-official Tasnim news agency carried Rear Adm. Hossein Khanzadi's warning on Monday, made during a meeting with a group of defense officials.

Khanzadi says Iran can always deliver another "crushing response ... and the enemy knows it."

Iran alleges that the drone violated its airspace, which the U.S. denies.

Trump, however, has also said that he appreciated Iran's decision to not shoot down a manned U.S. spy plane carrying 30 people in the same area as the drone.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived Monday in Saudi Arabia in a hastily arranged visit amid mounting tensions between Washington and Tehran as Iran's navy chief warned Iranian forces wouldn't hesitate to shoot down more U.S. surveillance drones from their skies.

The downing of the drone, valued at more than $100 million, saw the United States pull back from the brink of a military strike on Iran after President Donald Trump last week called off strikes in retaliation.

Iran's naval commander, Rear Adm. Hossein Khanzadi, threatened Washington, saying that Tehran is capable of shooting down other American spy drones that violate Iranian airspace.

"We confidently say that the crushing response can always be repeated, and the enemy knows it," Khanzadi was quoted as saying by the semi-official Tasnim news agency during a meeting with a group of defense officials.

Tensions have been mounting since Trump last year withdrew the U.S. from a global nuclear deal with Iran and began pressuring Tehran with economic sanctions. A fresh round of Iran sanctions is to be announced Monday in a bid to force the Iranian leadership into talks. Iran has decried the U.S. sanctions, which essentially bar Iran from selling its oil internationally, as "economic terrorism."

Pompeo, considered a hard-liner in the Trump administration, is expected to meet with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Saudi city of Jiddah, before heading to Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, another close U.S. ally and partner.

 Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are alarmed by Iran's military reach and are working to limit its influence in the region.
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