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Trump Says US 'Destroyed' an Iranian Drone in Persian Gulf

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JERUSALEM, Israel - President Donald Trump announced Thursday evening that a US Navy assault ship destroyed an Iranian drone that came too close to the vessel and ignored all warnings to stop.

"I want to apprise everyone of an incident in the Strait of Hormuz today, involving USSBoxer, a US Navy amphibious assault ship," Trump said while speaking at the White House. "The Boxer took defensive action against an Iranian drone which had closed into a very very near distance – approximately 1,000 yards – ignoring multiple calls to stand down and was threatening the safety of the ship and the ship's crew. The drone was immediately destroyed. This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran's vessels operating in international waters."

"The United States reserves our right to defend our personnel and our facilities and our interests and calls upon all nations to condemn Iran's attempts to disrupt freedom, navigation, and global commerce. I also call on all other nations to protect their ships as they go through the strait and to work with us in the future."

The Pentagon said Thursday's incident occurred at 10 a.m. local time in international waters. The Boxer is just one of several US Navy ships in the area that were deployed to the Persian Gulf a few weeks ago following increased tensions between Iran and the US.

CNN reports that the USS Boxer crew used electric jamming equipment to bring down the Iranian drone. 

Meanwhile, Iran completely denies it lost a drone.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi tweeted Friday that the US did not down an Iranian drone, and suggested that the US brought down its own drone.

"We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else. I am worried that USS Boxer has shot down their own UAS by mistake!" Araqchi said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also told reporters in New York on Thursday that "we have no information about losing a drone today."

Iran also announced on Thursday that it had seized a foreign oil tanker and its crew of 12 people for allegedly trying to smuggle oil out of the country. Iran released a video showing the tanker to be a United Arab Emirates ship that disappeared near Iran several days ago.

The US urged Iran to release the vessel and its crew.

"The United States strongly condemns the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy's continued harassment of vessels and interference with safe passage in and around the Strait of Hormuz," a State Department spokesperson told Reuters.

"Iran must cease this illicit activity and release the reportedly seized crew and vessel immediately."

The US has sent thousands of troops to the Persian Gulf in recent weeks to protect its interests there.

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