Published: Sat, July 20, 2019
Entertaiment | By Simon Arnold

USA downs Iran drone ‘to defend warship’

USA downs Iran drone ‘to defend warship’

But Iran's deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi quipped that the United States may have actually downed one of its own aircraft.

Also, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is in NY for United Nations meetings, said there's "no information about losing a drone".

It comes amid a period of heightened tension between the two countries, which included Iran last month shooting down a U.S. drone it said was flying over the country.

It read: "At approximately 1600 BST on 19th July UK registered vessel Stena Impero (built 2018, 49,683 DWT) was approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter during transit of the Strait of Hormuz while the vessel was in worldwide waters. We will continue to work closely with our allies and partners to ensure the Iranian regime's extortion tactics and malign activities do not further disrupt maritime security and global commerce", the spokesperson said.

It said the oil tanker had 12 foreign crew members on board and was involved in smuggling some 1 million liters of fuel from Iranian smugglers to foreign customers.

During the interview, Baier and host Julie Banderas reviewed a statement from the British tanker's owner, Stena Bulk. "And this only goes to show what I am saying about Iran".

The government said it is "urgently" seeking information after Iranian media reported a British-flagged oil tanker has been allegedly seized in the Strait of Hormuz near Iran.

Tensions between Iran and the US have been rising for months.

Washington has blamed Tehran for a series of tanker attacks in recent months off the United Arab Emirates coast, charges Iran denies. "Iran must cease this illicit activity and release the reportedly seized crew and vessel immediately".

"Iran last month shot down a USA surveillance drone that it claimed was flying over Iranian airspace, which almost prompted a retaliatory strike", reports the Hill.

Shortly after Iran shot down a U.S. navy drone aircraft in June, Mr Trump ordered a retaliatory military strike but called it off at the last moment, saying the risk of casualties was disproportionate to the downing by Iran, which did not cost any USA lives. US Central Command Spokesperson Bill Urban, in turn, stated that the unmanned aerial vehicle had been flying in worldwide airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.

NBC News reported: "Pressure in the region has been building since the Trump administration withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement and imposed punishing sanctions on the country".

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