Earlier today, the Pentagon confirmed that, just five days before the U.S. presidential election, Iranian forces fired on a U.S. Air Force Predator drone in the Persian Gulf. This shocking report comes as America's tensions with the Middle Eastern nation run high.
The incident occurred on Thursday, November 1 at 4:50 a.m. ET, according to spokesperson George Little. The unmanned drone, which was conducting what Little called "routine maintenance" at the time, was "intercepted."
"The United States has communicated to the Iranians that we will continue to conduct surveillance flights over international waters over the Arabian Gulf consistent with longstanding practice and our commitment to the security of the region," Little said in a Pentagon briefing. "We have a wide range of options from diplomatic to military to protect our military assets and our forces...and will do so when necessary."
The action is particularly aggressive, considering that the drone was in international airspace east of Kuwait at the time. According to CNN, the unit was not hit, but the Pentagon, nonetheless, is concerned. The Iranian jets involved in the incident were part of the nation's Revolutionary Guard Corps, an especially-confrontational subset of Iran's military forces.
"President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta were both advised early on about the unprecedented incident," MSNBC reports, going on to note that Little claims that relevant Congressional officials were made aware of the situation at the time.
Initially, the Obama administration did not disclose the information to the public -- an act that some may question, especially considering the proximity of the event to the 2012 presidential election. However, prior to the Pentagon's confirmation, two officials went off-the-record to describe the Iranian action to CNN. Here's how the events were relayed:
The drone's still and video cameras captured the incident showing two SU-25s approaching the Predator and firing its onboard guns.
The Iranian pilots continued to fire shots that went beneath the Predator but were never successful in hitting it, according to the officials.
U.S. military intelligence analysts are still not sure if the Iranian pilots simply were unable to hit the drone due to lack of combat skill, or whether they deliberately were missing and had no intention of bringing down the drone. But as one of the officials said, "it doesn't matter, they fired on us."
Considering the ongoing friction between the U.S. and Iran, these actions are anything but encouraging, especially if the two nations are, indeed, poised to negotiate peaceful terms.
This is a breaking news story. Stay tuned for updates.
(H/T: FOX News)