WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Thursday that the United States shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz as tensions in the region continued to escalate.
Trump said the drone was threatening a U.S. ship and was "immediately destroyed.”
“This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters," the president said. "The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, facilities, and interests."
He called on other countries to condemn Iran and protect their own ships.
Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said the U.S.S. Boxer, an amphibious assault ship, was in international waters in the Strait at roughly 10 a.m. local time when a drone approached and “closed within a threatening range.”
“The ship took defensive action against the (drone) to ensure the safety of the ship and its crew,” he said.
The downing of the drone followed Iran's apparent seizure of an oil tanker, the nation's state media announced earlier Thursday. Twelve crew members were on the Panamanian-flagged vessel when it was taken near the Strait of Hormuz. The Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps, a powerful organization with links to the military and business, said the tanker tried to smuggle a million liters of oil.
Tensions have escalated since the United States pulled out of a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and reimposed sweeping economic sanctions.
Iran shot down a U.S. drone in June, claiming it had violated Iranian airspace, an assertion U.S. officials said was false. The president pulled back a planned retaliatory strike against Iranian targets at the last minute. U.S. officials at the time cautioned the move should not be interpreted as weakness.