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Iran responsible for attack on two tankers in Gulf of Oman: Pompeo

 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said Iran is responsible for the attack on two commercial tanker ships sailing in international waters in the Gulf of Oman earlier in the day.

“It is the assessment of the United States government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today. This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high-degree of sophistication,” Pompeo told reporters at the State Department.

“Iran is lashing out because the regime wants our successful maximum pressure campaign lifted,” he said, adding that the U.S. “will defend its forces, interests and stand with our partners and allies to safeguard global commerce and regional stability.”

One ship reportedly was on fire and the other suffered damage. Meanwhile, 21 mariners from one of the ships were taken aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer after having abandoned the damaged ship. U.S. sailors were said to have spotted an unexploded mine attached to that ship’s hull, a U.S. official told ABC News. The 23 mariners from the other vessel were taken to Iran.

The attacks come at a time of heightened tensions between the United States and Iran after an American aircraft carrier was deployed to the Middle East in what the U.S. said was an effort to deter possible Iranian attacks against U.S. forces or interests in the region.

U.S. officials have publicly blamed Iran for explosive sabotage attacks using mines in mid-May against four commercial vessels off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

“We are aware of the reported attack on shipping vessels in the Gulf of Oman,” said Cmdr. Josh Frey, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet. “U.S. Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 a.m. local (Bahrain) time and a second one at 7:00 a.m. U.S. Navy ships are in the area and are rendering assistance.” Read more

Read also: Escalating tensions put U.S. and Iran on collision course, experts fear