'US launched cyberattacks on Iran military computers'

Updated: Jun 24, 2019, 11:30 IST | Agencies

Donald Trump ordered the strike, which disabled Iranian systems that controlled its rocket and missile launchers, in retaliation to downing of US drone

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and US President Donald Trump. Pics/AFP
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and US President Donald Trump. Pics/AFP

Washington: US military cyber forces launched a strike against Iranian military computer systems on Thursday as President Donald Trump backed away from plans for a more conventional military strike in response to Iran's downing of a US surveillance drone, US officials have said.

Two officials told The Associated Press on Saturday that the strikes were conducted with approval from Trump. A third official confirmed the broad outlines of the strike. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak publicly about the operation.

The cyberattacks — a contingency plan developed over weeks amid escalating tensions — disabled Iranian computer systems that controlled its rocket and missile launchers, the officials said.

Two of the officials said the attacks, which specifically targeted Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps computer system, were provided as options after Iranian forces blew up two oil tankers earlier this month. The IRGC, designated a foreign terrorist group by the Trump administration earlier this year, is a branch of the Iranian military.

The US Cyber Command 's action was a demonstration of the US's increasingly mature cyber military capabilities and its more aggressive cyber strategy under Trump. Over the last year US officials have focused on persistently engaging with adversaries in cyberspace and undertaking more offensive operations.

There was no immediate reaction Sunday morning in Iran to the US claims. However, it claimed that US had violated Iranian airspace in May too. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted US-made MQ9 Reaper drone had entered his country's airspace on May 26.

Iran's general warns US against scope of war

An Iranian military commander warned on Sunday that any conflict with Tehran would have uncontrollable consequences across the region and endanger the lives of American forces, as tensions between Washington and Tehran have flared after the downing of an American surveillance drone. "The United States administration should behave in a responsible way to protect the lives of American forces," Major General Gholamali Rashid was quoted as saying in comments published by the semi-official Fars news agency. General Rashid said if war breaks out, the scope and duration of the conflict would be uncontrollable, and blamed any escalation on "US interventionist policy".

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