With tensions mounting between the United States and Iran, federal lawmakers from South Carolina are ramping up the rhetoric but said they’re hopeful the two nations can avoid an armed conflict.

“I hope to God we don’t put men and women in harm’s way over there,” U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-3rd District, said Thursday during a media conference call. “Nobody wants a war, and definitely not a war with Iran.”

Earlier in the day, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down an American surveillance drone in the Strait of Hormuz, after Iranian officials said it violated the country’s territorial airspace. President Donald Trump said Iran made a “big mistake” by taking down the $100 million asset, but acknowledged Thursday afternoon the attack could have been accidental.

In a statement, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., blamed Iranian officials for the strike.

“The Iranian attack against an American drone, combined with Iranian proxies firing missiles into Saudi Arabia, is further escalation of an already tense situation. The Iranians rebuffed President Trump’s willingness to negotiate by refusing to respond to the letter presented to them by Prime Minister Abe of Japan on behalf of President Trump. Not only did the Iranians give a provocative oral response, but they also attacked a Japanese oil tanker at the same time,” Graham said. “The only thing Iran and every other thuggish regime understands is strength and pain.

Duncan said Iran’s military action may be the result of desperation.

“It seems like they’re provoking something, and I don’t understand why, other than the sanctions are getting to them,” he said. “I think Iran needs to back off and stand down. “

Graham said he hasn’t ruled out supporting targeted strikes against Iranian assets.

“When it comes to a military response — if necessary — it should be focused on Iranian naval capabilities and the oil refineries which are the economic lifeblood of this murderous regime,” Graham said.

Contact staff writer Adam Benson at 864-943-5650 or on Twitter @ABensonIJ.