Spain withdraws warship from US-led combat group in Gulf

Spain withdraws warship from US-led combat group in Gulf
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Spain's government announced that it would withdraw a frigate from a U.S.-led carrier strike group deployed to the Persian Gulf amid heightened tensions with Iran.

Reuters reported that Spanish officials made the decision following disagreements with the Trump administration over Iran policy. The U.S. has been at odds with European allies over Tehran since President TrumpDonald John TrumpLiz Cheney: 'Send her back' chant 'inappropriate' but not about race, gender Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Top Democrat insists country hasn't moved on from Mueller MORE announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Obama-era nuclear agreement.

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“The U.S. government has taken a decision outside of the framework of what had been agreed with the Spanish Navy,” Spain's defense minister said, according to the news service.

“Spain will always act as a serious and reliable partner as part of the European Union and within NATO," acting Defense Minister Margarita Robles reportedly added.

U.S. national security adviser announced the deployment of a carrier strike group and accompanying bomber task force last Sunday, calling them necessary to deal with "troubling and escalatory indications" from forces loyal to Iran's government.

"In response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings, the United States is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the U.S. Central Command region to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force," Bolton said, adding that the U.S. is not "seeking war" with Iran.

Tensions continued to escalate this week after a U.S. military assessment pointed to Iran's military or allied militia groups in the suspected sabotage of four oil tankers.

“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,” Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Khalid al-Falih, said of the attacks that occurred off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

“Fortunately, the attack didn’t lead to any casualties or oil spill; however, it caused significant damage to the structures of the two vessels," he added.