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Iran claims to have shot down Israeli spy drone

Iran claims to have shot down Israeli spy drone
President Hassan Rouhani, right, passes by an Iranian drone as he visits a defense exhibition in Tehran. Separately, Iran says it shot down an Israeli drone near its Natanz nuclear site. (Presidential official website / European Pressphoto Agency)

The Iranian military said Sunday that it had shot down an Israeli spy drone  as it approached a uranium enrichment site in central Iran.

The elite Republican Guard issued a statement announcing the interception of the drone and denouncing Israel, saying the episode "once again betrays the adventurous essence of the Zionist regime."

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Israel customarily does not comment on reports about its intelligence gathering, and made no statement in response to Iran's claim.

Gen. Ramzan Sharif, the spokesman of the Republican Guard, told Iranian TV that the data-collecting components of the drone were recovered intact, "and aeronautics experts have had access to it."

The Iranian statement said the drone was nearing the nuclear facility at Natanz, about 150 miles south of Tehran, when it was shot down by a Russian-built air defense system. It did not say when the interception took place.

The report comes as negotiations have bogged down between the United States and other world powers over Iran's nuclear program. Israel has repeatedly expressed skepticism about the negotiations, and has not ruled out taking military action to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

In 2011, Iran said it captured an advanced CIA spy drone and later reverse-engineered it.

Mostaghim is a special correspondent.

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