Iran 'will arm Palestinians' after it shoots down Israel spy drone over Iran

A picture taken on July 29, 2014, shows an Israeli UAV flying over the Gaza strip. An Iranian military commander said on Monday, Aug 25, 2014, that Teheran will "accelerate" arming Palestinians, after an Israeli spy drone was shot down in Iran. 
A picture taken on July 29, 2014, shows an Israeli UAV flying over the Gaza strip. An Iranian military commander said on Monday, Aug 25, 2014, that Teheran will "accelerate" arming Palestinians, after an Israeli spy drone was shot down in Iran. -- PHOTO: AFP

TEHERAN (AFP) - Teheran will "accelerate" arming Palestinians in retaliation for Israel deploying a spy drone over Iran, which was shot down, a military commander said on Monday.

"We will accelerate the arming of the West Bank and we reserve the right to give any response," said General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, commander of aerial forces of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, in a statement on their official website sepahnews.com.

Iran, which does not recognise the existence of Israel, has confirmed it supplied Palestinian fighters from Hamas and the Islamic Jihad with the technology for the rockets being fired relentlessly into Israel from Gaza since July 8.

Iran's warning comes a day after the Guards said they had brought down an Israeli "Hermes" stealth drone above the Natanz uranium enrichment site in the centre of the country.

Natanz is Iran's main uranium enrichment site, housing more than 16,000 centrifuges. Around 3,000 more are at the Fordo plant, buried inside a mountain and hard to destroy.

Israel has often threatened to attack Iranian nuclear installations.

An Israeli spokesman told AFP in Jerusalem on Sunday after the report that the drone had been shot down that the military does "not address foreign media reports".

Gen Hajizadeh said at a news conference broadcast on television that the unmanned aircraft shot down was a "Hermes" stealth drone that "can evade radar".

"Pieces of the drone have been recovered intact and are being analysed," he said, adding that it had a range of 800km.

"It was spotted by our surveillance system and shot down by a Revolutionary Guards surface-to-air missile," Mr Hajizadeh said.

Iran and the P5+1 powers - Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany - are in negotiations to secure a nuclear deal.

Israel opposes any agreement between the P5+1 powers and Teheran that will allow Iran to keep part of its uranium enrichment programme, saying they could use the material to make an atomic bomb.

Iran has consistently denied wanting to make nuclear weapons.

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