August 18, 2019

Trump Says Navy Ship Shot Down Iranian Drone

Trump Says Navy Ship Shot Down Iranian Drone

WASHINGTON — The American military shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, President Trump said during a ceremony at the White House.

Mr. Trump said the unmanned aircraft threatened the Boxer, an amphibious assault ship that can launch attack jets and helicopters from its landing deck.

“The drone was immediately destroyed,” Mr. Trump said.

A Pentagon spokesman, Jonathan Hoffman, said in a statement that the Boxer was in international waters and that the drone “closed within a threatening range” before taking defensive action.

It was unclear if the Iranian drone was armed.

There was no immediate comment from Tehran. But the downing will most likely again inflame tensions between Iran and the United States.

Last month, Iran shot down an American surveillance drone in a dispute over whether it was flying over international waters or Iran’s territory. The Trump administration considered retaliating with military strikes against a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries.

Officials said Mr. Trump initially approved the strikes. But with minutes to spare and planes already headed to their targets, the president abruptly pulled back to prevent what he said would have been the deaths of about 150 Iranians.

He also said the death of that many Iranians would not be “proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”

Washington has also accused Iran of sabotaging six tankers in the Gulf of Oman in recent months, an accusation that Tehran has denied.

Earlier Thursday, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, told journalists in New York that “we came a few minutes away from a war” after last month’s incident.

“Prudence prevailed,” Mr. Zarif said.

Separately, Iranian news media reported that the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps had detained a foreign oil tanker that it said had been smuggling fuel. The announcement came days after a United Arab Emirates vessel disappeared in the Persian Gulf.

Several state news organizations in Iran reported the seizure of the tanker, based on a statement from the Revolutionary Guards, which claimed that the ship had been carrying one million liters of contraband fuel. The Iranian state news agency Al Alam reported that the Revolutionary Guards detained the ship on Sunday.

The statement said the episode took place to the south of Iran’s Larak Island, in the northern part of the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow Persian Gulf waterway that is a vital conduit for maritime petroleum traffic.

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