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VIDEO: Trump blames Iran for oil tanker attack near Strait of Hormuz

U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the Oval Office before departing the White House on May 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
June 14, 2019

President Donald Trump on Friday blamed Iran for the attack on two oil tankers in near the Strait of Hormuz this week.

During an interview with Fox & Friends on Friday morning, Trump said a video released by the U.S. military is proof of Iran’s responsibility for the attack.

“Well, Iran did do it, and you know they did do it because you saw the boat,” he said, referencing the video.

“They didn’t want the evidence left behind. … It was them that did it,” he added.

The video released by the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) shows a small Iranian vessel alongside the damaged Japanese oil tanker Kokuka Courage, and individuals aboard the boat attempting to move an unexploded mine wedged in the boat’s hull.

It was the same type of mine used in attacks against four tankers in the same area – the Gulf of Oman – last month.

Trump said the mine has “Iran written all over it,” adding, “We don’t take [their involvement] lightly.”

“They’re a nation of terror and they’ve changed a lot since I’ve been President, I can tell you,” he said. “They’re in deep, deep trouble.”

Trump’s comments come after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to the press on Thursday and also blamed Iran for the attack.

“Iran is lashing out because the regime wants our successful maximum pressure campaign lifted,” he told reporters on Thursday. “The international community condemns Iran’s assault on the freedom of navigation and the targeting of innocent civilians.”

“This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication,” Pompeo added.

The U.S. Navy deployed the USS Bainbridge to assist one of the attacked tankers, safely transferring 21 sailors from it. At least one mine blast on the hull had exploded. Another 23 sailors were rescued from the nearby Norwegian tanker Front Altair.

Both vessels were carrying Japanese goods and on their way to Japan, this while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Iran at the time to meet with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

An unconfirmed report on Friday morning indicated that the Front Altair’s crew may be detained by Iran, and that Iran is being ordered to surrender the crew.

“Pentagon now believes crew of Norwegian-owned tanker Front Altair detained by Iran. US officials say crew first rescued by merchant vessel, Hyundai Dubai, but Iranian gunboats surrounded ship demanding crew. Captain ordered crew to surrender. 23 crew members being held in Iran,” tweeted Lucas Tomlinson, reporter for Fox News.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Friday that the U.S. had “immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran — [without] a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence.”

“Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning,” Zarif said of the attacks, Fox News reported.