Iranian military leaders on Tuesday vowed that Tehran would take military action against Israel in response to an alleged Israeli drone that was shot down in Iran on Sunday.
Iran "will not give a diplomatic response," but will air its grievances with Israel on the "battlefield," senior Iranian generals were quoted as saying on Tuesday.
"Our response to this aggression will not be diplomatic, we will retaliate in the battlefield, but will not necessarily announce it," Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the Lieutenant Commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) was quoted as saying during a ceremony on Tuesday meant to commemorate "martyred" Iranian military personnel.
"The enemy will see and understand it," Salami was quoted as saying by the semi official Fars News Agency. "We never step back (in the confrontation) against the enemy. The Islamic Republic is powerful and is capable of confronting any power at any level and we never bring down the level of our goals."
The threat of a surprise attack against Israel for its apparent attempts to send a spy drone into Tehran came just a day after Iranian government officials threatened to sue Israel in the International Criminal Court.
Iranian military leaders announced over the weekend that they had used a surface-to-air missile to shoot down a drone that it claimed was an Israeli-made Hermes 450 unmanned plane. The drone was allegedly on its way to the Natanz nuclear enrichment site, which is believed to be part of Iran’s clandestine attempts to build a nuclear weapon.
"This hostile action is a violation of Iran’s territorial integrity and sovereignty," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham was quoted as saying Monday by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
Afkham also hinted that military action is being considered by Tehran.
"Iran has the right to take the necessary defensive action and pursue the case in international legal courts," IRNA reported Afkham as saying.
Other IRGC officials also have adopted the rhetoric of war and slammed Israel in vitriolic terms following the incident.
"This mischievous attempt once again made the adventurous nature of the Zionist regime more evident and added another black page to the dark record of this fake and warmongering regime, which is full of crimes and wickedness," the IRGC said in a statement reported by Al-Manar News.
The IRGC claimed that it "reserves the right of response and retaliation for itself," according to the statement.
IRGC leader Salami claimed that Tehran has definitive proof the drone was made by Israel and claimed that it had not originated from the Jewish state, but another nearby country.
"What some people say that the drone had started its flight from Israel is not correct and we are almost certain about its origin, yet we would like to reserve judgment at present," Salami was quoted as saying during a press conference on Tuesday.
Iranian military leaders apparently spotted the drone on its border but permitted it to "enter the country to see the intention (of the hostile forces operating it) and then we targeted and hit it at the right time," Salami said, according to Fars.
Salami further claimed that the technology in the drone is not unfamiliar to Iran, which has itself built several indigenous models of drones, some of which are believed to be based off of a downed U.S. drone reportedly captured in 2013.
The U.S. State Department has remained quiet thus far when confronted with questions about the incident.
When asked on Monday if she could confirm that an Israeli drone was downed by Iran, State Department Spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki demurred.
"I don’t have anything to update you on that front," Psaki said. "My apologies."