US may have brought down second Iranian drone last week: US general

A SH-60 Sea Hawk flies over the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) during a vertical replenishment-at-sea, Arabian Sea off Oman, July 19, 2019. (Reuters/US Navy)
Updated 23 July 2019

US may have brought down second Iranian drone last week: US general

  • The US said on Thursday that a Navy ship had “destroyed” an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz
  • Tensions in the Gulf region are high, with fears that the US and Iran could stumble into war

WASHINGTON: A US Navy ship may have brought down a second Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz last week, the head of US Central Command said on Tuesday.
The US said on Thursday that a Navy ship had “destroyed” an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz after the aircraft threatened the vessel, but Iran said it had no information about losing a drone.
“We are confident we brought down one drone, we may have brought down a second,” General Kenneth McKenzie told CBS News in an interview.
A US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the warship Boxer may have brought down a second drone last week, though they were still working to confirm it.
“We brought down one for sure. ... There might have been a second,” said the official.
Tensions in the Gulf region are high, with fears that the US and Iran could stumble into war.
The United States has blamed Iran for a series of attacks since mid-May on shipping around the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important oil artery. Tehran rejects the allegations.
Iran in June shot down a US military surveillance drone in the Gulf with a surface-to-air missile. Iran says the drone was in its airspace, but Washington says it was in international skies.
President Donald Trump said at the time the United States had come close to launching a military strike on Iran in retaliation for the downing of the US drone.
The increased use of drones by Iran and its allies for surveillance and attacks across the Middle East is raising alarms in Washington. 


US declares Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land 'consistent' with international law

Updated 18 November 2019

US declares Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land 'consistent' with international law

  • The announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sparked anger among Palestinians
  • The move is the latest by the Trump administration seen as favoring the Israeli position over the Palestinians

WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday backed Israel’s right to build Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank by abandoning its four-decade position that they were “inconsistent with international law.”

The announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sparked anger among Palestinians who say the settlements are the main barrier to their future state.

The shift in US policy follows the Trump administration’s decision to relocate the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem last year, a move seen as undermining Palestinian claims to the eastern half of the city as a future capital.

Pompeo said US statements about the settlements on the West Bank - which Israel captured during a 1967 war - had been inconsistent, saying Democrat President Jimmy Carter in 1978 found they were not consistent with international law and Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1981 said he did not view them as inherently illegal.

“The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements is not, per se, inconsistent with international law,” Pompeo told reporters at the State Department, drawing criticism from a senior Palestinian figure even before his announcement.

“Another blow to international law, justice & peace,” Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran Palestinian negotiator and member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's Executive Committee, said on Twitter ahead of Pompeo’s statement.

The announcement marked the third major instance in which the Trump administration has sided with Israel and against stances taken by the Palestinians and Arab states even before unveiling its long-delayed Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

In 2017 Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel before opening the embassy in the city. US policy had previously been that the status of Jerusalem was to be decided by the parties to the conflict.

In March, Trump recognized Israel’s 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights in a boost for Netanyahu that prompted a sharp response from Syria, which once held the strategic land.

Trump's move might have been designed to help Netanyahu as he struggles to stay in power. Israeli politics is deadlocked after two inconclusive elections this year. Former military chief Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White party emerged neck and neck with Netanyahu following a September vote, and both leaders have struggled to put together a ruling coalition.

*With Reuters