Video, photos show apparent Iranian attack on cargo ships

Video, photos show apparent Iranian attack on cargo ships

Damage from an explosion, left, and a likely limpet mine can be seen on the hull of the civilian vessel M/V Kokuka Courageous in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, as the guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge, not pictured, approaches the damaged ship. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration said Iran was responsible for the Thursday attack on two ships off its coast near the Strait of Hormuz, stoking up tensions between the two nations and reopening the pathway to possible conflict.

Pentagon officials released a video that purports to show an Iranian naval vessel removing an unexploded mine from the side of one of the attacked ships. The film was taken by a U.S. aircraft.

Photos of the ships showing damage and the location of the possible mine also were released.

“At 4:10 p.m. local time an IRGC (Iranian Republican Guard) Gashti Class patrol boat approached the M/T Kokuka Courageous and was observed and recorded removing the unexploded limpet mine (from the Courageous),” Capt. Bill Urban, a Central Command spokesperson, said in an email to Pentagon reporters.

The Courageous is one of the attacked ships. The suspected magnetic mine was attached to its hull. Pentagon officials have not said where the mines were made or how they were placed on the ships.

The video was released after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters on Thursday that Iran was the culprit, based on intelligence and a trajectory of events occurring in the region over the past few weeks.

“This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication,” Pompeo told reporters.

He did not take questions from the press nor provide any support for his accusations.

Last month, four other ships in the region were damaged in a similar manner.

Pompeo met with acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan Thursday afternoon to discuss the next steps, Pentagon officials said.

In May, the Pentagon sent reinforcements to the region in response to what it said was increased threats to U.S. and allied personnel by Iran and its proxies.

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