TEHRAN, Iran -- A senior Iranian lawmaker claimed yesterday that Iran has images of sensitive Israeli military bases taken by a drone that was launched by Lebanon's Hezbollah movement and downed by Israel earlier this month. It is the latest boast from Tehran about purported advances in the capabilities of its unmanned aircraft.
The announcement gave no details about the photos, other than calling the Israeli bases "forbidden sites," but it suggested Iranian drones have the ability to transmit data while in flight. It appeared aimed at warning Israel about the options for retaliation for any possible strikes on Iranian nuclear sites.
Ismaeil Kowsari, a prominent lawmaker, also was quoted as saying that Iran-backed Hezbollah possesses more sophisticated Iranian-made drones than the one that was downed, including some that could carry weapons.
"These drones transmit the pictures online," he told the semiofficial Mehr news agency. "The pictures of forbidden sites taken and transmitted by this drone are now in our possession."
A senior military official in Israel's northern command said he did not believe the drone possessed a camera, though he noted that an Israeli investigation is continuing.
Iran has claimed that Iranian-made surveillance drones have made dozens of apparently undetected flights into Israeli airspace from Lebanon in recent years. Israel has denied that.
Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah has said the Ayub drone was manufactured in Iran and assembled in Lebanon.
It's unclear whether the new drone contains any elements of an unmanned CIA aircraft that went down in eastern Iran last year. Iran said it has recovered data from the RQ-170 Sentinel and claimed it was building its own replica.