Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 July 2019

Iran shot down US drone in international airspace - latest developments

Drone brought down near the Strait of Hormuz early on Thursday, further raising tension between Tehran and Washington

Donald Trump had approved strikes against Iranian targets such as radar stations and missile batteries, but later ordered aircraft and ships to stand down. EPA
Donald Trump had approved strikes against Iranian targets such as radar stations and missile batteries, but later ordered aircraft and ships to stand down. EPA

Stay here for rolling coverage of US and international reaction after Iran shot down a US drone near the Strait of Hormuz

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Trump calls Saudi crown prince to discuss situation

Donald Trump phoned Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed on Friday evening to discuss the latest developments in the confrontation with Iran. Their talks covered ways to ensure the safety of shipping and maintain global oil supply, the Saudi Press Agency reported. The US president's call came on the same day his special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, was in Saudi Arabia to discuss Iranian activities undermining security in the region. After meeting Deputy Defence Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman, Mr Hook said Iranian efforts to attack Saudi Arabia through proxies in Yemen were raising the risk of regional conflict and needed to be countered.

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Trump not looking for conflict but gives warning

A day after tensiosn rapidly escalated, US President Donald Trump told NBC News on Friday he is not looking for war with Iran, but he warned that if a conflict did occur it would result in "obliteration."

"I'm not looking for war, and if there is it'll be obliteration like you've never seen before. But I'm not looking to do that".

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US requests closed door UN meeting, says senior diplomat

The US has requested a closed-door UN Security Council meeting on Iran and the latest developments in the Gulf, a senior diplomat told The National on Friday.

The discussions will take place in private and are planned for Monday afternoon, focusing on the recent attacks against oil tankers in the Gulf and the Iranian downing of the US spy drone, the diplomat said.

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US House Speaker reacts to Trump

Nancy Pelosi, US House Speaker, says she did not receive any advance notification that a US strike on Iran was "in the works".

Pelosi says she's glad that Trump called off strikes on Iran.

Read more

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Emirates and Flydubai adjust routes after US bans flights over Iranian waters

Commercial airlines are avoiding flying over Iranian-controlled waters in the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman. Flightradar24.com
Commercial airlines are avoiding flying over Iranian-controlled waters in the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman. Flightradar24.com

Emirates and Flydubai said on Friday they had begun to reroute some of their flights after the US Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency order prohibiting American carriers from flying over Iranian waters.

Low-cost carrier Flydubai said it had "adjusted" some of its flight paths.

Read more

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Oil rises towards $65 as Donald Trump warns Iran that US strikes are imminent

Oil prices rallied towards $65 per barrel on fears of a US military attack on Iran that would disrupt flows from the Middle East, which provides more than 20 per cent of the world's oil output.

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Donald Trump tells Iran that strikes are imminent but offers talks

Donald Trump sent a message to Tehran through Oman on Thursday to say that a US attack on Iran was imminent but he would rather begin talks, according to Iranian officials.

The officials spoke to Reuters shortly after the New York Times reported that the US president had ordered strikes against Iran in retaliation for the downing of a US drone on Thursday, but cancelled them before they could be launched.

"In his message, Trump said he was against any war with Iran and wanted to talk to Tehran about various issues ... He gave a short period of time to get our response but Iran's immediate response was that it is up to Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei to decide about this issue," one of the officials said.

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Etihad Airways monitoring US no-fly ban in Iranian airspace

Flightradar24 tracks an Ethiad flight from Abu Dhabi to New York's JFK airport flying over Iranian airspace. Courtesy Flightradar24.com
Flightradar24 tracks an Ethiad flight from Abu Dhabi to New York's JFK airport flying over Iranian airspace. Courtesy Flightradar24.com

Etihad Airways said it is "carefully monitoring" a decision by the United States' federal aviation body to ban US carriers flying over a part of Tehran-controlled airspace.

The US Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency order prohibiting US operators from flying in overwater areas over the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman due to heightened tensions.

"Contingency plans are in place, and we will decide what further action is required after carefully evaluating the FAA directive to US carriers," the spokesperson said.

Read more

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US House Republicans call for 'measured response'

Senior Republicans have released a statement after the White House meeting on Iran.

"President Trump and his national security team remain clear-eyed on the situation and what must be done in response to increased Iranian aggression," said Kevin McCarthy, Michael McCaul, Devin Nunes and Mac Thornberry.

"In Congress, we stand ready to support our armed men and women in uniform, our country, and our allies in the region."

Full statement below:

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Chuck Schumer: US could 'bumble' into war

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said US President Trump "may not intend to go to war here, but we are worried that they may bumble into war".

The meeting lasted about 90 minutes and was attended by senior officials.

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US will take measured response: Senate leader

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said after the White House meeting on Iran on Thursday that the Trump administration would take a "measured response" to Iran's attack on its drone and that the drone was shot down from Iranian soil.

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi backed the administration's assessment that the drone was in international waters when it was downed by Iran. But the Democratic leader called for "de-escalation".

Ms Pelosi described the situation as "a dangerous, high-tension situation that requires a strong, smart and strategic, not reckless, approach."

She anticipated more meetings telling CNN: "The President said we will have more meetings like this. I don't know what the sequence of that would be."

Meanwhile the Pentagon released a map of the drone path ahead of its targeting, which shows it was outside Iran's waters when it was shot.

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Iranian letter to UN: not seeking war but ready to 'defend its land, sea and air'

Alireza Miryousefi, Iran's spokesman to the UN, has tweeted a copy of the letter sent to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

“While the Islamic Republic of Iran does not seek war, it reserves its inherent right, under Article 51 of the UN Charter, to take all appropriate necessary measures against any hostile act violating its territory, and is determined to vigorously defend its land, sea and air," Mr Miryousefi said.

"This is not the first provocative act by the United States against Iran’s integrity.

“The international community is called upon to demand the United States put an end to its continued unlawful and destabilising measures in the already volatile region of the [Arabian] Gulf."

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White House meeting ends

The White House meeting with Congressional leaders has ended. CBS reported it lasted 90 minutes. There is no readout or statement from Washington yet.

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Netanyahu urges support against Iranian 'aggression'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the international community to support the US against Iran.

"In the past 24 hours Iran has intensified its aggression against the United States and against all of us," Mr Netanyahu said.

"And I repeat my call for all peace-loving countries to stand by the United States in its effort to stop Iranian aggression. Israel stands by the United States on this."

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Saudi warns allies of Iranian interests being served

After a British court decision suspending new licence applications on arms exports and the US Senate voting to block sales, Adel Al Jubeir, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said that only the interests of Iran and its vows of "death to America" would be served by suspending sales.

But Mr Al Jubeir said that in the British instance, the issue could be addressed with revised domestic procedures.

The court found the government had failed to properly assess the effect of arms exports on the war in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is supporting the internationally recognised government against Iran-backed rebels.

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Iran UN ambassador: US was warned about drone entering airspace

Iran’s UN ambassador has said in a letter to the UN Security Council that the US unmanned aircraft entered Iranian airspace despite repeated radio warnings.

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US leaders meet Trump in closed briefing

Congressional leaders have arrived to the White House where they are meeting US President Donald Trump, defence and intelligence officials for a closed briefing on Iran.

The meeting, taking place in the situation room includes Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (Democrat), House minority Kevin McCarthy (Republican) , Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (Republican), and Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer (Democrat).

It also includes the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence and armed services committees. This is the third briefing Congress has received on Iran in less than 24 hours.

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Saudi intercept Houthi drones

A spokesman for the Arab Coalition in Yemen said Saudi air defences intercepted a Houthi drone aimed at Jizan. Houthi rebels are allied to Iran in the region.

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Pentagon video shows drone being hit

The Pentagon has released a video showing smoke coming from US drone as it was hit by Iran.

US Central Command said on Thursday that the drone shot down by Iran was a RQ-4A Global Hawk High-Altitude, Long, Endurance Unmanned Aircraft System .

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Trump: you'll find out US response soon

Speaking at the White House, Mr Trump repeated that Iran made a "very big mistake" but refused to reveal what response the US will make, saying "you will find out soon".

He said it was "scientifically documented" that the US drone was over international waters when it was shot down.

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Iran says it will take case to the UN

Iran says it will go to the UN to prove that a US drone it shot down had entered Iranian airspace, contrary to Washington's claims.

"We'll take this new aggression to the UN and show that the US is lying about international waters," Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted, after a US general said the drone was taken down about 34 kilometres from the Iranian coast.

"We don't seek war, but will zealously defend our skies, land and waters."

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General at Al Udeid base denies drone was in Iran territory

Lt Gen Joseph Guestella, at Al Ubeid base in Qatar, said Iran's claims that the US drone "was shot down over Iran are categorically false" and that the attack happened over international waters.

Al Udeid hosts almost 10,000 US troops and the US sent B-52 bombers there last month after threats from Iran.

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Trump and his senior advisers meet at White House

The National's Washington correspondent Joyce Karam reports that US President Donald Trump is meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, departing assistant defence secretary Patrick Shanahan and National Security Adviser John Bolton at the White House.

Mr Bolton is travelling to Israel to discuss the current escalation, AFP reported. Congress leaders were briefed this morning.

The US administration is studying options to respond to the drone attack, including targeting Iranian surface-to-air missiles sites, but without triggering a larger conflict.

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Tehran made 'very big mistake' declares Trump

President Donald Trump declared in a tweet on Thursday that "Iran made a very big mistake" in shooting down a US drone.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Mr Trump was briefed Wednesday night and again Thursday morning about the incident, AP reported.

She said the administration would keep in touch with Congress. Trump made his comment on Twitter mid-morning.

US and Iranian officials are disputing the circumstances of the incident. Iran's Revolutionary Guard said it shot down the drone over Iranian airspace.

The US military is calling it an "unprovoked attack" and said it occurred over international airspace in the Strait of Hormuz.

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Houthi missile launched but 'caused no damage'

The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen said that a missile fired by Houthi rebels into the kingdom overnight on Wednesday landed near a desalination plant but caused no damage.

The Houthi rebels, who have threatened to hit 300 sites on a list of what they call strategic infrastructure, said a cruise missile had hit and knocked out an electricity station in the Shuqaiq water plant.

The Coalition said it was still determining the type of rocket that had been aimed at infrastructure in the southern province of Jizan.

US officials said that President Donald Trump had been briefed about the incident.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and continuing to consult with our partners and allies,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.

For full story click here

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US envoy for Iran heads to the Gulf to 'share intelligence on threats'

Brian Hook, US Special Representative for Iran, will head to the Gulf to discuss the continuing tension with Iran, who he believes, “without any question”, is behind the attacks on six oil tankers in the region.

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Mines point to Iran role in Gulf of Oman tanker attacks, US Navy chief says

Limpet mines used in an attack on a Japanese-owned oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman last week bear a "striking resemblance” to Iranian mines, US Navy officials said on Wednesday.

Updated: June 22, 2019 10:24 AM

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