U.S. Has Evidence That Iranian Drone Was Destroyed, Senior Official Says

Updated at 11:15 a.m. ET

The U.S. government has evidence that the USS Boxer destroyed an Iranian drone that was said to have come close to the Navy ship on Thursday, according to a senior Trump administration official.

Iran has disputed the U.S. claim, saying that all of its drones are accounted for — and suggesting the U.S. ship might have accidentally taken down one of its own military drones.

On Friday, the senior U.S. official indicated more information would be forthcoming from the Pentagon.

“We have very clear evidence, the Defense Department put out their statement about the actions of the Boxer,” the official told reporters Friday. “The Iranians don’t have great history with the truth. We’re very confident in the president’s announcement.”

President Trump first announced the downing Thursday afternoon, saying, “The drone was immediately destroyed” after it closed to about 1,000 yards from the amphibious assault ship and ignored repeated radio calls to stand down.

Shortly after Trump’s statement, chief Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman provided more details, saying a drone had approached the USS Boxer at around 10 a.m. local time, when the ship was in international waters and was sailing in “an inbound transit of the Strait of Hormuz.”

Asked about whether the Trump administration would take further measures against Iran, the administration official said that the U.S. is prepared to defend itself.

“It was their drone that came to close to our ship,” the official said, adding, “If they continue to do this. If you fly too close to our ships, you’re going to get shot down.”

As NPR’s Tom Bowman reports, military officials say that in the past, Iran’s helicopters and drones have often flown close to U.S. ships as they transit the Strait of Hormuz, moving between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

In one incident from August of 2017, those officials say, a U.S. ship was harassed by an Iranian drone that flew near the ship during night operations. No shots were fired in that encounter, but it was deemed to be “clearly unsafe.”

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