Iran ‘shoots down’ US spy drone as tensions reach breaking point in the Gulf

IRAN has claimed to have shot down a US ‘spy’ drone today as tensions reach breaking point.
The country’s state-run IRNA news agency said Iran’s Revolutionary Guard hit the drone when it entered Iranian airspace.
Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency released this picture amid claims the Revolutionary Guard had shot down a US droneThe US military declined to immediately comment when asked if an American drone was shot down.
But Captain Bill Urban, a US Central Command spokesman, told AP: “There was no drone over Iranian territory.”
IRNA, citing the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, identified the drone as an RQ-4 Global Hawk.
The reported shoot-down comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US.
Earlier this week, the US announced plans to deploy more than 1,000 more troops to the Middle East following bomb attacks on two oil tankers.
Photos released by the Pentagon appear to prove Iran’s Revolutionary Guard were behind the bomb attacks on the tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced the deployment for what he said were “defensive purposes” citing concerns about a threat from Iran.
He said the “recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behaviour by Iranian forces and their proxy groups” towards America.
The new images, many taken from a Navy helicopter, show what the Pentagon said were Iranian forces removing an unexploded mine from the side of the Kokuka Courageous tanker.
Other photos show a large hole on the side of the Japanese-owned ship, above the water line, that officials say appears to have been caused by another similar mine.
The vessel is believed to have been targeted by a magnetic mine causing a series of massive explosions.
Images the Pentagon says show Iranian forces beside the Kokuka CourageousAP:Associated PressThe pictures also show damage to the vesselReutersThe new images were taken from a US Navy helicopterAP:Associated PressAP:Associated Press According to the Pentagon, the Iranians are removing an unexploded mine[/caption]
The ship was holed just above the water lineReutersA satellite picture taken directly above shows the Iranian vessel beside the tankerAP:Associated PressSecretary of State Mike Pompeo standing in front of pictures of the tankers attacked in the GulfAP:Associated PressA huge fire rages on board the Front Altair after it was reportedly hit by a torpedo in the Gulf of OmanAP:Associated Press An aerial picture showing the huge blaze raging on the oil tanker after the attack[/caption]
Both it and the Front Altair burst into flames and were forced to evacuate the troubled region.
Iran has denied any involvement in the explosions.
It comes as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States is “considering a full range of options” after the attacks.
“We have briefed the President a couple of times, we’ll continue to keep him updated,” he said.
“We are confident that we can take a set of actions that can restore deterrence which is our mission set,” Pompeo said in an interview on CBS’s Face The Nation.
When questioned if a military response was one of the options, Pompeo responded: “Of course.”
He then added: “The President will consider everything we need to do to make sure, right? But what’s the President said? We don’t want Iran to get a nuclear weapon.
“President Trump has said very clearly, he doesn’t want to go to war.”
And when asked if the administration had the legal authorisation to strike Iran without approval from Congress, Pompeo said: “We always have the authorisation to defend American interests.”
Pompeo’s comments came after the two tankers were attacked near the strategically important Strait of Hormuz.
The Pentagon last week also released other images and footage as “proof” of Iranian involvement in last week’s attack.
The United States has video and photos that show an Iranian navy boat removing an unexploded mine attached to the hull of the Kokuka Courageous, reports CNN.

US and Iran – a troubled history

Before the 1979 Iranian revolution, Iran was one of America’s biggest allies in the Middle East and was led by the US-backed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi.
However, since the seismic revolt, Iran has been led by murderous Islamic fundamentalists and tensions with Washington have remained ever since.
On November 4, 1979, the Iranian regime took 52 US diplomats hostage in response to President Carter’s administration allowing Iran’s deposed former leader into America.
The hostage crisis lasted for 444 days and also included a failed rescue mission which cost the lives of eight US soldiers.
In April 1980, the US ended diplomatic relations with Iran – a break which lasted for more than 30 years.
In April 1983, Washington blamed the Iranian-funded terror group Hezbollah for carrying out a bombing attack on the American embassy in Beirut, Lebanon.
The assault, carried out amid a brutal civil war in Lebanon, killed 17 Americans.

In November of that year, two truck bombs in Beruit killed 241 US peace keepers. The US again blamed Hezbollah for the incident.
The Clinton White House, in 1995, placed a total embargo on Iran meaning US companies could not trade with the country.
And in 2002, George W Bush included the Islamic Republic in his famous “Axis of evil” speech along with North Korea and Iraq.

It was also revealed the US Navy is sending the guided missile destroyer USS Mason to the scene of the attacks.
The deployment of extra troops is part of a broader military package of options that were initially laid out to US leaders late last month.
They include many as 10,000 personnel, Patriot missile batteries, aircraft and ships.



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The Royal Navy is also set to send Marines to the region amid rising tensions.
The attacks came as tensions in the Persian Gulf between the United States and Iran reach boiling point.
In recent weeks, Washington has deployed an aircraft carriers and B-52 bombers to the region in response to what it says are Iranian threats against American interests and its allies in the region.
The shocking attacks happened in the Gulf of Oman – a key trade route in the Middle EastAP:Associated Press Huge plumes of thick black smoke billow from the massive tanker in the Gulf of Oman following a suspected torpedo attack[/caption]
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