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US shoots down Iranian drone as Gulf tensions rise

The drone was immediately destroyed afterwards, as per President Trump, as it approached within 1000 yards of the ship. Tehran’s top diplomat, Mohammad J Zarif, said he had “no information about losing a drone today.”

The USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship, “took defensive action” against the Iranian drone on Thursday to “ensure the safety of the ship and its crew,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said.

The drone was “immediately destroyed” after it approached within 1,000 yards (914 meters) of the Boxer, US President Donald Trump told reporters. “This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran, against vessels operating in international waters,” he added.

“The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, our facilities and interests and calls upon all nations to condemn Iran’s attempts to disrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce.” But Iran denied losing any drones. Armed forces spokesman Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi described Trump’s statement as “baseless and delusional claims,” according to the Tasnim news agency.

“There have been no reports of a confrontation with the American USS Boxer,” he was quoted as saying by Tasnim. Deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi tweeted:

“I am worried that USS Boxer has shot down their own (drone) by mistake!” The apparent confrontation came as Iran defended its detention Sunday of a “foreign tanker” believed to be the Panamanian-flagged vessel Riah and its 12 crew for allegedly smuggling fuel.

“The vessel was en route to deliver contraband fuel received from Iranian boats to foreign ships in farther regions when it was intercepted,” Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said on its Sepah News website.

The incident comes after a series of low-level attacks in the region blamed on Tehran’s forces, including placing limpet mines on several tankers and actions by what Washington calls Iranian proxies in Syria and Yemen. In May, the Pentagon announced the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to waters near Iran in response to “indications of a credible threat by Iranian regime forces.”

Tehran downed an American surveillance drone in June, prompting Trump to order air strikes against Iran. But he called them off at the last minute, saying the plan was not “proportionate” and casualties would have been too high. On July 4, Britain seized a fully loaded Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar, allegedly headed for Syria in violation of sanctions.

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