He did not, however, immediately offer any proof of the intelligence behind that assessment.
The attack certainly bears the hallmark and capabilities of previous aggressive actions undertaken by Iran and its paramilitary cohorts in the Persian Gulf.
But questions abound over who actually stands to benefit most from an attack in a region beset by violence and convoluted proxy conflicts raged between and Iran and Saudi Arabia and its allies.
Was the attack carried out by Iran, or other Gulf States seeking to sow conflict ― or did the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps operate outside of Tehran’s directives to further its own agenda?
CNN reported, citing a U.S. defense official, that the crew of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile Bainbridge reported seeing an unexploded limpet mine on the side of one of the tankers involved in Thursday’s attack in the Gulf of Oman.
A limpet mine was believed to be the cause of an attack on four tankers in May off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, which the U.S. pinned on Iran, according to the BBC.
No state or group has claimed responsibility for the attacks on the tankers, one of which was carrying oil to Japan, whose Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was on a diplomatic mission in Iran to help ease tensions in the region. The attacks occurred in the Gulf of Oman.
Javid Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, tweeted that “suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning.”
And both Iran and the U.S. claimed to have rescued sailors of the damaged tankers.
The U.S. Navy put out a statement saying it had received two separate distress signals and that the Bainbridge “rendered assistance.”
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