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Iran taunts Trump with video of warships after president claims US shot down drone

But experts say footage broadcast by Iranian state TV is inconclusive 

Tim Wyatt
Saturday 20 July 2019 11:10 BST
Iran releases drone footage of US warships to 'disprove' Trump claims the craft was downed

Iran has released a video which it says disproves Donald Trump’s claims the US shot down an Iranian drone in the Gulf.

The footage, which experts say does not actually prove the dispute either way, shows aerial views of warships which appear to be sailing through the Straits of Hormuz.

Iranian state TV, which first broadcast the video, said the timings and positional data overlaid on the footage showed it had been taken after the drone was supposed to have been downed by USS Boxer, an American naval vessel in the area.

But analysts and reporters onboard the USS Boxer said the images are inconclusive and some of the shots of the US ship could have been taken from Iranian helicopters seen nearby, not the drone.

The war of words over the fate of Iran’s drone mark another escalation in the increasingly tense conflict in the Gulf.

On Friday, a British-flagged oil tanker was boarded and seized by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

The owners of the Stena Impero say they have lost contact with those on board and denied Iran’s claims the ship was “violating international maritime rules”.

In June, Iran shot down a US military drone in the Straits of Hormuz, a vitally important shipping lane near Iran’s territorial waters through which a fifth of the world’s oil is sent.

Mr Trump announced the US Navy had destroyed an Iranian drone on Thursday after it “threatened the safety” of the USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship.

Despite the president telling reporters it had definitely been shot down, Pentagon officials later clarified it had been instead brought down by electronic jamming and the USS Boxer had not fired any of its weapons.

But Iran denied this, with senior government officials in Tehran even suggesting America may have downed one of its own drones instead.

The hardline Revolutionary Guards, whose small boats have been harassing and intimidating shipping in the Straits of Hormuz for weeks, then released the video as part of its efforts to rebuff the US claims.

Donald Trump says Iran is 'Nothing but trouble'

Iran has a history of making deeply misleading claims. After a series of mysterious explosions and attacks on ships last month, its leaders denied any involvement.

But the US military then released its own video which appeared to show an Iranian patrol boat removing an unexploded limpet mine from the hull of a larger ship.

Britain was dragged into the escalating dispute when the Royal Marines seized an Iranian ship off Gibraltar and accused it of smuggling oil into Syria, breaching EU sanctions.

The source of the conflict is thought to be the decision by Mr Trump to withdraw America from the nuclear deal signed with Iran in 2015 and instead ramp up sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

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