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US military to investigate attack on UAE oil tankers

The US will aid in the investigation [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 May, 2019

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The US military will assist in an investigation into an attack which targeted four oil tankers in the UAE's strategic port of Fujairah on Sunday.

The US military will assist in the investigation on an attack on four commercial vessels near Fujairah emirate, just outside the Strait of Hormuz, Reuters reported, quoting a US official on Monday.

The defence official said that the request for assistance was made by the UAE government.

On Sunday, the United Arab Emirates reported that four commercial vessels of various nationalities had been targeted by acts of "sabotage" off the UAE port of Fujairah.

Fujairah port is the only terminal in the UAE located on the Arabian Sea coast, bypassing the Strait of Hormuz, a global shipping route through which most Gulf oil exports pass.

Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz in case of a military confrontation with the United States.

The incident comes amid rising tensions between Iran and the United States, which has strengthened its military presence in the region, including deploying a number of strategic B-52 bombers in response to alleged threats from Tehran.

Saudi Arabia said that two of its oil tankers were among the damaged vessels.

“The acts of sabotage targeted commercial and civilian vessels near the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates," a Saudi foreign ministry source said.

"This criminal act constitutes a serious threat to the security and safety of maritime navigation and adversely impacts regional and international peace and security," the source added.

The assault, which has yet to be claimed by a group, was condemned across the region, including by the GCC, Arab League and individual Arab states.

Iran called the attacks “alarming”.

"The incidents in the Sea of Oman are alarming and regrettable," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Monday.

Mousavi "called for clarifications" concerning the "exact dimensions" of Sunday's attacks on ships in the Gulf, warning of "adventurism" by foreign players to disrupt maritime security.

He added such incidents would have a "negative impact... on shipping safety and maritime security" in the Gulf.

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