Washington: The US military has destroyed an Iranian drone that came within 1,000 yards of one of its naval vessels in the Strait of Hormuz, President Donald Trump announced amid heightened tensions between the two countries. Speaking at the White House on Thursday, Trump said that USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship of the US Navy, “took defensive action” on Thursday as the Iranian drone was “threatening the safety of the ship and the ship’s crew”. “The drone was immediately destroyed,” the US President added without giving more details.
Iran, however, said it had no information about losing a drone. The incident comes after Tehran on Thursday said that it had seized a “foreign tanker” and its 12 crew for “smuggling fuel” in the Gulf and days after reports of a British tanker being harassed in the region.Chief Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said later in a statement that USS Boxer downed the approaching drone at approximately 10 a.m. during its planned inbound transit of the Strait of Hormuz, the US media reported.
“A fixed wing unmanned aerial system (UAS) approached USS Boxer and closed within a threatening range. The ship took defensive action against the UAS to ensure the safety of the ship and its crew,” said the statement.Citing US defence officials, the US media reported that the Iranian drone was brought down by counter-drone jamming equipment, which was operated by US marines aboard the USS Boxer.
Asked about the incident, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters in New York that “we have no information about losing a drone today”.Referring to the escalating tensions between Tehran and Washington amid US military buildup in the region, Zarif had earlier warned that “anybody who starts a war with Iran will not be the one who ends it”.
The downing of the drone comes at a time of mounting tensions in the Gulf between the US and Iran which has been slapped with a raft of sanctions by the Trump administration.”This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters. The US reserves the right to defend our personnel facilities and interests and calls upon all nations to condemn Iran’s freedom of navigation and global commerce,” said the US President.
“I also call on other nations to protect their ships as they go through the strait and to work with us in the future,” he added.Last month, a American drone operating over the Strait of Hormuz was shot down by Iranian air defence system, which almost led to a US military retaliation against Iran.
USS Boxer, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, arrived in US Central Command area of operation on June 23 with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and two other amphibious warships, according to a statement of US 5th Fleet.The US has been upgrading its military posture in the Middle East since May by sending troops and military assets to the region. Pentagon claimed these measures are “prudent response to credible threats from Iran” and for “defensive purpose”.