US says Navy ship destroyed Iranian drone in Gulf
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States said on Thursday that a US Navy ship had “destroyed” an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz after the aircraft threatened the vessel, but Iran said it had no information about losing a drone. In the latest episode to stir tensions in the Gulf, US President Donald Trump told an event at the White House that the drone had flown to within 1,000 yards (meters) of the USS Boxer and had ignored “multiple calls to stand down.” “This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters. The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, facilities and interests,” Trump said. “The drone was immediately destroyed,” he added. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters at the United Nations: “We have no information about losing a drone today.” The Pentagon said in a statement that the USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship, had taken “defensive action” against a drone on Thursday morning as the Boxer was moving into the Strait of Hormuz. “We do assess it was an Iranian drone,” said Commander Rebecca Rebarich, a Pentagon spokeswoman. Tensions in the Gulf region are high, with fears that the United States and Iran could stumble into war. The United States has blamed Iran for a series of attacks since mid-May on shipping around the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important oil artery. Tehran rejects the allegations. Iran in June shot down a US military surveillance drone in the Gulf with a surface-to-air missile. Iran says the drone was in its airspace, but Washington says it was in international skies. Trump said at the time the United States had come close to launching a military strike on Iran in retaliation for the downing of the US drone. The increased use of drones by Iran and its allies for surveillance and attacks across the Middle East is raising alarms in Washington. The United States believes that Iran-linked militia in Iraq have recently increased their surveillance of American troops and bases in the country by using off-the-shelf, commercially available drones, US officials say. A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the drone on Thursday was brought down through electronic jamming.