On Friday the AFP reported on some surprising statement from Iran’s military, which however remains unconfirmed from the US side:
The Iranian navy on Friday said it drove off American aircraft that flew close to an area where military exercises were underway near the Strait of Hormuz.
Specifically it was claimed that three total American aircraft, including a P-8 spy plane, a MQ-9 drone and a RQ-4 drone, were caught entering Iran’s air defense identification zone and were picked up by their radar.
Iran’s navy claimed that after “ignoring warnings by Iran’s defense systems to keep away from the drill zone” the American planes were tracked by an Iranian drone before “they changed course and left the zone.”
The Iranians are in the midst of three-day “Zolfaghar 99” exercises in the Strait of Hormuz, a key oil transit point, with the drills stretching into the Indian Ocean.
Despite Washington’s maximum pressure campaign still intense as ever in the form of sanctions, the kind of direct conflict witnessed early this year with the killing of the IRGC’s Qassem Soleimani has been largely absent this summer.
Recall that days following the US drone strike on the elite commander while exiting the Baghdad airport, Iran responded with major missile strikes on US bases in Iraq, which in a sense remained “the final word” on the matter.
Likely not wanting to escalate things to a full-blown war, the Trump administration did not retaliate for the missile attack, which reportedly left dozens of US troops with concussion type injuries.