Iran tells US to 'recount' drones
Iran tells US to 'recount' drones
“Its capture is not an issue the Americans can easily refute,” Guards spokesman Brigadier General Ramezan Sharif was quoted as saying.
“I advise the American commanders to recount their drones accurately,” he said.
The Guards on Tuesday claimed to have recently captured a ScanEagle drone, a low-cost, short-range unmanned aircraft made by Boeing that measures 1.4 meters (4.5 feet) long and with a wingspan of three meters (10 feet).
They said the craft was seized in Iranian airspace but gave no details about how it was captured intact, nor where or when. State television showed images of what it said was the drone: a grey, unmarked vehicle suspended in a hangar.
A spokesman for the US Fifth Fleet based in the Gulf said none of its drones was missing, and a White House spokesman said there is “no evidence” the Iranian claim was true.
A year ago, Iran displayed a bigger and vastly more sophisticated US drone, a bat-winged stealth RQ-170 Sentinel, it said it had captured by hacking its guidance system.
US officials, after initially denying that Sentinel drone had been inside Iran airspace, ended up admitting it had been lost during a CIA mission, but contended it had likely suffered a malfunction that brought it down. US President Barack Obama unsuccessfully asked Iran to return it.
The ScanEagle that Iran says it now possesses is a much cheaper, simpler drone than the RQ-170 Sentinel. It is principally designed to feed back video images over a radio link to operators up to 100 kilometers (60 miles) away.
Rebels set to leave new area outside Damascus
DAMASCUS: Rebels were expected to leave a new area outside the Syrian capital Saturday, state media said, after a new deal was reached between opposition fighters and the Russia-backed regime.
The agreement is the latest in a string of deals that have seen opposition fighters and civilians bussed out of former opposition strongholds near Damascus.
“An agreement has been reached in the area of Eastern Qalamun providing for terrorists to exit Al-Ruhayba, Jayrud and Al-Nasiriya starting from” Saturday, state news agency SANA said late Friday, using its usual term for rebels.
The town of Al-Ruhayba lies some 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Damascus.
Under the deal, fighters would hand over heavy and medium-size weapons as well as ammunition depositories, before heading to northern Syria, SANA said.
They would be transferred to the rebel-held northern town of Jarabulus in Aleppo province and to the neighboring province of Idlib, which is the last in Syria to remain largely outside regime control.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor relying on sources inside Syria, said buses had entered the East Qalamun area after the deal was reached between the rebels and the Russia-backed regime.
The regime is pushing to secure the capital after it announced its full reconquest last week of what was the last major rebel bastion outside Damascus.
Eastern Ghouta was emptied of rebels after a nearly two-month deadly assault on the enclave and several Russia-brokered deals that saw tens of thousands of people transported on buses to Syria’s north.
Earlier this week, a deal was inked that saw around 5,000 people including 1,500 fighters exit Dumayr, a town just to the south of Al-Ruhayba.
After retaking Eastern Ghouta, the regime has also turned its sights on the southern districts of the capital where Daesh has a presence.
Regime forces have bombarded the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp on the southern edge of Damascus in recent days in a bid to dislodge Daesh fighters.
Syria’s conflict has killed 350,000 people and displaced millions more since it broke out in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.