News:

Iranian military say all its drones returned safely to base after US claimed it shot one down

US destroyed Iranian drone in Strait of Hormuz, says Trump

Iran seizes 'fuel-smuggling' tanker in Gulf


An Iranian military spokesman has rejected US claims that an Iranian drone had been shot down near a US warship in the Persian Gulf on Thursday.

“All drones belonging to Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz... returned safely to their bases after their mission of identification and control, and there is no report of any operational response by USS ‘Boxer,’” Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi told the Tansim news agency.

Earlier, US President Donald Trump said an Iranian drone was taken down by the ‘Boxer’ after approaching her to within 1,000 yards (900 meters). The Iranian official said the statement was meant to escalate tension and uncertainty in the Strait of Hormuz.

Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, suggested that the US military may have taken down their own drone by mistake.

Seyed Abbas Araghchi ✔@araghchi: We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else. I am worried that USS Boxer has shot down their own UAS by mistake!
6:03 AM - Jul 19, 2019

Tension has been high in the strategic region since May, when Washington accused Tehran of preparing an unspecified attack on US interests, and deployed additional military assets to the Middle East. The US has also imposed crippling economic sanctions against Iran and has been pressuring other nations to stop buying Iranian crude.

Last month, Iran downed a US Navy surveillance drone, saying it had strayed into its airspace.

A number of incidents involving oil tankers have also happened over recent months, with Washington and its allies claiming that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps was responsible.

US destroyed Iranian drone in Strait of Hormuz, says Trump

President Donald Trump has said the US Navy destroyed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz.

He said the USS Boxer amphibious assault ship "took defensive action" on Thursday after the drone came within about 1,000 yards (914m) of the vessel.

Iran said it had no information about losing a drone. In June, Iran downed a US military drone in the area.

Earlier, Tehran said it had seized a "foreign tanker" and its 12 crew on Sunday for smuggling fuel in the Gulf.

Iran has been blamed by the US for attacks on tankers which have happened in the world's key shipping area since May. Tehran denies all the accusations.

The recent incidents have triggered fears of a military conflict in the region.

Iran seizes 'fuel-smuggling' tanker in Gulf

Iran says it seized a "foreign tanker" and its 12 crew on Sunday for smuggling fuel in the Gulf.

Iran's state media published footage of Iranian speedboats circling around the Panamanian-flagged Riah tanker.

The Revolutionary Guards' Sepah News site said on Thursday that the alleged fuel-smuggling ship was seized on Sunday during naval patrols aimed at "discovering and confronting organised smuggling".

The ship had a two-million-litre capacity, but was carrying one million litres of fuel when it was seized south of Iran's Larak Island, the website said.
The ship and crew were caught "trying to hand over smuggled fuel which it had received from Iranian dhows to foreign ships further afield", it went on.

The case is now "going through judicial procedures".

State media later published footage of Iranian speedboats circling around the Panamanian-flagged Riah tanker.

Iran earlier in the week said it had come to the aid of a broken-down tanker, without naming the Riah. It made no mention of seizing the ship.

The UK government said it was seeking further information over the reports and urged the Iranian authorities to "de-escalate the situation in the region".
Tensions have been high in the Gulf since the US tightened the sanctions that it reimposed on Iran's oil sector after unilaterally withdrawing from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

Sources: RT / BBC

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