TIMELINE: Drones, tankers stoke Middle East conflict

0 0
Read Time1 Minute, 41 Second


June 13: Two tankers attacked in the Gulf of Oman, near the Strait of Hormuz, forcing crew members to evacuate. US blames Iran. Iran denies any involvement.

June 20: Iran claims to have shot down a US drone over its territory, in what the country’s Revolutionary Guard calls a “clear message” to Washington to respect its airspace. But the US says the drone was in international airspace and calls the incident an “unprovoked attack”.

June 21: US President Donald Trump reportedly approves strikes on Iranian targets in retaliation but later calls the plan off at the last minute due to concerns over the potentially high death toll.

July 4: Britain enters the fray when the Syria-bound Grace 1 oil tanker is impounded off Gibraltar for allegedly operating in breach of EU sanctions against the Syrian regime. Iran summons the British ambassador and calls the seizure “illegal”.

July 11: Britain accuses three Iranian ships of trying to “impede the passage” of a British oil tanker as it travelled through the Strait of Hormuz. Again, Iran denies the accusation.

July 18: Iran’s Revolutionary Guard says its forces have seized a foreign tanker in the Strait of Hormuz and arrested its 12 crew members, accusing them of smuggling oil. Details of that incident remain unclear.

– Trump claims the US downed an Iranian drone as it came within 900 metres of the USS Boxer in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard responds by releasing footage that it says disproves the claim.

July 19: Iran seizes the British-flagged Stena Impero in the strategically important strait. Another vessel, the Liberian-flagged, British-operated Mesdar, is briefly detained but later allowed to continue on its voyage. A port official says the Stena Impero was seized after colliding with an Iranian fishing ship and ignoring the crew’s distress calls.

July 20: British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt says Iran is on a “dangerous path” and threatens the country with “considered but robust” action.