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US believes Iran encouraged tanker attacks: US sources

US believes Iran encouraged tanker attacks: US sources

2019/05/16 | 00:40

(Hatha al-Youm | Iraq News)- US officials believe Iran encouraged Houthi militants or

Iraq-based Shiite militias to carry out Sunday’s attacks on four tankers near

the Strait of Hormuz, two US government sources said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity and who are

familiar with US national security assessments, said they viewed the attacks as

a serious provocation by Iran which posed a significant threat to shipping.Iran rejects the allegation of Iranian involvement and

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said that “extremist

individuals” in the US government were pursuing dangerous policies. No one has

claimed responsibility for the tanker attacks.One source said US government experts believe Iran gave its

“blessing” to the operations, which hit two Saudi crude oil tankers, a

UAE-flagged fuel bunker barge and a Norwegian-registered oil products tanker

near Fujairah, one of the world’s largest bunkering hubs just outside the

Strait of Hormuz.This source said the United States believes the Iranian role

has been one of actively encouraging militants to undertake such actions and

went beyond simply dropping hints. However, the source indicated the United

States does not now have evidence that Iranian personnel played any direct

operational role.A fifth of the oil consumed in the world passes through the

Strait of Hormuz en route from Gulf crude producers to much of the globe.A Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the Houthis for four

years in Yemen to try to restore the internationally recognized government in a

conflict widely seen as a Saudi-Iran proxy war.The attacks occurred against a background of tensions

between the United States and Iran over Iranian nuclear capabilities, its

missile program and its support for proxies in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Washington ordered the departure of non-emergency American employees from its

diplomatic missions in Iraq on Wednesday in another apparent show of concern

about what it describes as threats from Iran.On Tuesday, a US official had said US national security

agencies believed proxies sympathetic to or working for Iran may have attacked

four tankers rather than Iranian forces themselves.While that official had said perpetrators might include

Houthi rebels or Iraq-based Shiite militias, the official said Washington did

not have hard evidence on who struck the vessels and did not go so far as to

say Iran had encouraged them to act.











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