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Iran Denies U.S. Destroyed Iranian Drone In Strait Of Hormuz

AT SEA -- An MH-60S Sea Hawk lands on the flight deck of USS Boxer (LHD-4) in the Arabian Sea off Oman, July 16, 2019


Iran has denied that a U.S. warship destroyed an Iranian drone in the strategic Strait of Hormuz after President Donald Trump said a U.S. Navy ship had "destroyed" one.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi tweeted on July 19 that Tehran has “not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else."

A spokesman for Iran's armed forces said on July 19 that all Iranian drones had "safely returned" to their bases.

"Despite Trump's baseless and delusional claims, all of the Islamic republic's drones in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, including the one mentioned by the U.S. president, have safely returned to their bases after carrying out their surveillance and control missions," senior armed forces spokesman Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi was quoted as saying by Iranian media.

"There have been no reports of a confrontation with the American USS Boxer" naval vessel, he added.

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said it will "soon" release images to disprove the U.S. claim.

In a statement carried by Iranian news agencies, the IRGC said the images will show the Iranian drone had been carrying out its regular mission as the USS Boxer arrived in the region.

Trump said the USS Boxer destroyed the drone after the aircraft threatened the ship by flying to within 1,000 meters of it and ignored multiple calls to stand down.

"The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, our facilities and interests, and calls upon all nations to condemn Iran's attempts to disrupt the freedom of navigation and global commerce," he said at a joint news conference with visiting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Trump called on other countries to condemn what he said were Iran's attempts to disrupt the freedom of navigation and global commerce in the Persian Gulf region.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Tehran "has no information about losing a drone today," but he blamed Washington for pushing "itself and the rest of the world into probably the brink of an abyss."

Zarif, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of visit to the UN, accused the U.S. administration of "trying to starve our people" and "deplete our treasury" through economic sanctions.

Iran recently shot down a U.S. drone that it said was flying over Iran. Trump called off a planned retaliatory air strike against Iran at the last minute.

Tensions have been on the rise between Washington and Tehran after U.S. President Donald Trump last year withdrew from a landmark international deal under which Iran scaled back its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

The latest incident came as Iranian state television reported that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) seized a foreign tanker on July 14 with 12 crew members onboard.

State TV reported on July 18 that the tanker was transporting fuel from Iranian smugglers to foreign customers and was intercepted south of Iran's Lark Island in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

The State TV report did not identify the tanker nor the nationalities of the crew members.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa and Fars