Houthi rebels in Yemen recently shot down a U.S. government-operated drone with assistance from Iran, the U.S. military said in a statement on Sunday.
Lt. Col. Earl Brown, a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command, said the altitude at which the MQ-9 drone was shot down on June 6 marked “an improvement over previous Houthi capability,” a fact that led the military to conclude the rebel group had help from Iran.
Brown also noted that on June 13, Iran separately tried to shoot down yet another U.S. drone over the Gulf of Oman in an effort to disrupt surveillance of Iran’s attack on Kokuka Courageous, one of two oil tankers attacked on Thursday.
U.S. officials have blamed Tehran for those attacks, raising fears about a potential confrontation between the United States and Iran.
But the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has continued to insist that United States does not want to have war with Iran.
While it is “unmistakable” that Iran was responsible for the attacks on two tankers last week, the United States does not want to go to war with Tehran, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday.
In an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” Pompeo said, “President Trump has done everything he can to avoid war. We don’t want war.” But he added that Washington will guarantee free navigation through vital shipping areas.
“The United States is going make sure that we take all the actions necessary, diplomatic and otherwise that achieve that outcome,” Pompeo said.
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U.S.-Iran tensions are high following accusations by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump that Tehran carried out attacks last Thursday on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, a vital oil shipping route. Iran has denied having any role.
“The intelligence community has lots of data, lots of evidence. The world will come to see much of it,” said Pompeo, who headed the Central Intelligence Agency before becoming secretary of state.
Pompeo said he did not want to discuss possible next steps the United State might take in response to last week’s developments.
“Iran will not get a nuke weapon. That’s the goal,” he said when asked about the possibility of Trump sending more American troops and military hardware to the region.
“I made a number of calls to colleagues around the world yesterday. I am confident that we will have partners that understand this threat,” Pompeo said.
U.S. blames Iran for helping Houthi rebels shoot down drone in Yemenhttps://t.co/J9bYQynZDC
— Reuters Iran (@ReutersIran) June 16, 2019
US military claims Iran tried to ‘shoot down drone’ that was observing attacks on oil tankers https://t.co/r9SyIf7Gre; They take blame. Pay for damage.
— Michael Eichert (@michaeleichert) June 16, 2019Loading...
Via @CENTCOM: iran Rev Guards providing upgraded surface to air missiles to Houthi militia in Yemen. And the surface to air missile fired at the Reaper drone on June 13 missed by a km. Imagine the threat posed to civilian air traffic. Iran asymetric warfare posing new dangers pic.twitter.com/vMAKGxOInp
— Oubai Shahbandar (@OS26) June 16, 2019
— UK Business 🇬🇧 (@ukbizz) June 16, 2019
U.S. blames Iran for helping Houthi rebels shoot down drone in Yemen https://t.co/omJEqEFQra
— Salma (@Salma79185079) June 16, 2019
Reuters contributed to this report.
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