Iran claims drone filmed Israeli secret sites

Iran claimed on Monday it has pictures of highly protected sites in Israel, taken from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) launched by the Lebanese Hezbollah group on October 6, the head of Iran’s parliamentary defense commission Esmaeel Kossari told Arab-language channel Al-Alyam.

Iran is in possession of data transmitted by an unmanned Hezbollah drone that overflew “restricted” sites and bases in Israel this month, a defence official said.

The drone “transmitted live data, photographing sensitive Israeli bases,” chair of the Iranian parliament’s defence commission, Esmaeel Kosari, told Iran’s Arabic-language Al-Alam television.

“The photos of restricted areas are in Iran’s possession,” he said in an interview broadcast on Sunday night.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah boasted on October 11 that his Shiite group sent the drone over Israel, saying the device was “Iranian built and assembled in Lebanon.”

“It overflew sensitive and important installations for dozens of kilometres until the enemy spotted it near (the nuclear site) Dimona,” Nasrallah said without identifying the installations.

Iran confirmed Nasrallah’s claim, and scoffed at Israel’s air defences.

Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi said the drone flight “shattered everything that was said about the Iron Dome system” — Israel’s air defence shield.

Speaking to Al-Alam on Sunday, Kosari also echoed a claim by Vahidi earlier in the day that Iran had more advanced drone than the one Hezbollah used.

“Iran currently possesses unmanned aircraft which have more advanced technology than the drone that Hezbollah forces recently flew over the Zionist regime’s airspace,” Vahidi told reporters on Sunday.

Iran regularly boasts about advances in military and scientific fields, but in most cases fails to provide proof they were ever carried out. Western military experts regularly cast doubt on its claims.

Vahidi meanwhile rejected a notion that draconian economic sanctions against Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme had affected the military and its advances.

“Unfair Western sanctions have no effect on boosting the defence and deterrent prowess of the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said.

On the other hand, a senior officer in Israel’s northern command on Monday dismissed an Iranian claim they were in possession of data transmitted by an unmanned Hezbollah drone that overflew Israel earlier this month.

“I don’t think there was a camera,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity, although he admitted the incident was “still being investigated.”

The Israeli officer said that to the best of his knowledge “there were no weapons on the drone.”

Even without gathering intelligence, the drone’s flight was “a show of ability,” he said, proving that “it could fly over Israel for a long time, which could develop into filming abilities.”

He also raised the possibility of future “suicide drones” which could carry explosives and be crashed into Israeli targets.