Initial US military assessment points to Iran in sabotage of oil tankers: report

Initial US military assessment points to Iran in sabotage of oil tankers: report

A U.S. military assessment of explosions that damaged four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates were bound for the U.S. reportedly points to Iranian sabotage.

A U.S. official said Monday that the four vessels, two of which were Saudi vessels while the others were Norwegian and Emirate, each had similar five- to ten-foot holes blown in the sides, suggesting that the damage was caused by explosive charges with the intention of sinking the ships, according to The Associated Press.

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The official added that the damage was thought to be caused by Iranian military forces or Iranian-backed militias.

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Khalid al-Falih, said Monday that the damage to the ships was an act of sabotage but added that no personnel on board were killed by the attacks.

“One of the two vessels was on its way to be loaded with Saudi crude oil from the port of Ras Tanura, to be delivered to Saudi Aramco’s customers in the United States,” he reportedly said. “Fortunately, the attack didn’t lead to any casualties or oil spill; however, it caused significant damage to the structures of the two vessels.”

The U.S. had previously warned of efforts by “Iran or its proxies” to target ships in the region as tensions between the Trump administration and Tehran continue and U.S. sanctions make Iranian oil untouchable for many buyers.

Last week, a carrier strike group and bomber task force were deployed to the Persian Gulf amid “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings,” according to national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonGood riddance, John Bolton Williamson urges followers to contact Senate, House over possible Bolton replacement Trump called out for 'my favorite dictator' while awaiting Egyptian leader at summit: report MORE.