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The U.S. military on Friday released a video it said showed Iran's Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the oil tankers targeted near the Strait of Hormuz, suggesting the Islamic Republic sought to remove evidence of its involvement from the scene.
The U.S. Navy rushed to assist the stricken vessels in the Gulf of Oman off the coast of Iran, including one that was set ablaze Thursday by an explosion.
Ships - Operators - Explanation - Damage - MT
The ships' operators offered no immediate explanation on who or what caused the damage against the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair and the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous. Each was loaded with petroleum products, and the Front Altair burned for hours, sending up a column of thick, black smoke.
Captain Bill Urban, spokesman for the U.S. Central Command, issued a timeline that suggested the military witnessed Iranian vessels returning to the Japanese vessel.
Pm - Time - IRGC - Gashti - Class
'At 4:10 p.m. local time an IRGC Gashti Class patrol boat approached the M/T Kokuka Courageous and was observed and recorded removing the unexploded limpet mine' from the Courageous, Urban said.
Explosion - Fault - Iran - Secretary - State
The explosion was found to be the fault of Iran, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
'It is the assessment of the United States government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today,' Pompeo told reporters at the State Department.
Assessment - Intelligence - Weapons - Level - Expertise
'This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to executive 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.'
Iran has denied being involved in the attack, calling it an 'unfounded claim' in the U.S.' 'Iranophobic campaign.' However, Iran previously used mines against oil tankers...
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