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Iranian press review: Guards refrain from downing US plane with 35 on board

IRGC commander says US plane with the passengers flew close to the surveillance drone that was shot down on Thursday
On Friday, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps' displays what it says is debris from the US drone downed on Thursday (AFP)

Iran refrained from shooting down US plane near drone

Iran sent four warning signals to a US surveillance drone before it was shot down on Thursday and did not strike a second plane carrying 35 passengers which accompanied it, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' aerospace division told ISNA news agency.

“Ten minutes before the attack, a warning signal was sent to the drone. Those who were controlling the drone received the warning signals, but payed no attention,” Amir Ali Hajizadeh was quoted as saying.

“There was an American P-8 surveillance airplane with 35 passengers flying close to the drone. We could have hit that plane too, but we didn’t."

The revelations from Hajizadeh came hours after US President Donald Trump reportedly ordered and then called off an attack on Iran on Thursday evening.

On Friday, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) presented the pieces of what remained of the drone, reported Fars news agency, an outlet close to the IRGC.

Fars also published a map, claiming to display the full path that the drone took from Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates until it was downed by the IRGC.

Iranian politicians warned the US about starting a war with Iran. “Today, analysts and observers have learned that we are not Saddam Hussein’s Iraq,” Mohsen Rezaei, a former commander of IRGC during the Iran-Iraq war, wrote on Twitter referring to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Iran calls for independent investigation over tanker attacks

Iranian politicians have called for an international truth commission to investigate last week’s attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman which the US and the UK have blamed on Iran.

After the 13 June attacks, Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, chairman of National Security and Foreign Affairs committee in Iran’s parliament, called for the establishment of an independent commission, the Arman daily reported.

Falahatpisheh said the timing of the attacks suggests that they were done by a party "who benefits from making the Strait of Hormuz unsafe”.  

Qasem Moheb Ali, former head of the Middle East office at Iran’s Foreign Affair Ministry, also told the Aftab daily that a truth commission under supervision of the UN and European Union “will show that US claims are baseless”.  

On Monday, the US military published images which it said supported its claim that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was behind the attacks. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has echoed US claims and blamed Iran for the attacks.

Meanwhile, Chief of Staff for Iran’s armed forces Mohammad Bagheri said if Iran had wanted to close the Strait of Hormuz, it would have done it “in full strength” and not by stealth, IRNA news agency reported.

Rouhani leans east, meets Putin, Xi

Iran has sped up its attempts to strengthen ties with Russia, China and Central Asian countries during the past week in response to the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" strategy.

On 14 June, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani participated the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit held in Kyrgyzstan. During the gathering, he had separate meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

A day later, Rouhani attended the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in Tajikstan.

The Iran daily, an official newspaper of the government, praised Rouhani’s meetings as a great success for Iran’s anti-war diplomacy.

“The president’s attendance at the CICA and SCO summits shows that US policies to spread Iranophobia and isolate Iran in the region has failed,” wrote the daily, under the headline “Tehran, Beijing, Moscow against US unilateralism”.

Iranian academic: ‘If US attacks Iran, I will take up arms'

An Iranian political scientist who has been an outspoken critic of Iran's stances against the US and Israel now says he will halt his academic work and take up arms if the US attacks his country, Iran's IUSNEWS website reported.

Sadegh Zibakalam, a professor at University of Tehran and winner of last year's Deutsche Welle Freedom of Speech Award, told the outlet on 15 June that after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he criticised academics who believed that the US should have attacked Iran next - and that thinking still holds true.

“They believed that 70 percent of Iranians would have complied with the US decision, and I told them even if 90 percent of Iranians supported a US attack, then 10 percent will confront you - which is about seven million persons,” he added.

“You have to fight them in each city and each alley. And I will also be one of that 10 percent. If the United States attacks my country, I will no longer spend my time formulating theories. Rather, I will take up arms and defend my country against the US."

Run on tourists visas for Europe and Canada

Iranian travel agencies have received more requests for tourist visas in recent weeks as tensions between Iran and the US have ratcheted up.

The Ebtekar daily reported that tourist visas for European countries, Canada and Australia are currently in high demand. 

For many Iranians a tourist visa is a guarantee that they can leave their country if a war breaks out with the US or its regional allies.

As a result of complicated visa processes and a maze of restrictions, Iranians frequently use travel agencies to assist with tourist visa applications.

Another spur for seeking visa assistance is the economic crisis in the country, including a 140 percent drop in the country's currency last year, which has limited their ability to book tour packages, the daily reports.

Meanwhile, the head of the government office supervising travel agencies in the country told Ebtekar that 80 percent of the advertisements promoting visas are a scam and are illegal.

*The Iranian press review is a digest of reports that are not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.