US Central Command said that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) approached one of the tankers hit with explosion earlier Kokuka Courageous and removed an unexploded limpet mine, attaching a video that what it says shows it, Reuters reported.
The low-quality footage, released by the US Central Command late on Thursday, showed a group of people in a boat next to some vessel. However, no flags or vessel names can be clearly seen in the video.
Just in: Pentagon video of what it says is an Iranian boat removing an unexploded mine from one of the attacked oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. pic.twitter.com/XSxIPcyV6Q
— Philip Crowther (@PhilipinDC) June 14, 2019
In a statement, released together with the footage, the military says the US forces had received two distress calls from Altair and Kokuka Courageous at 6:12 a.m. (01:42 GMT) and 07:00 a.m. on Thursday. USS Bainbridge destroyer began moving toward the tankers, while US airplanes observed vessels allegedly belonging to the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the vicinity of Altair, according to the statement.
“At 4:10 p.m. local time an IRGC Gashti Class patrol boat approached the M/T Kokuka Courageous and was observed and recorded removing the unexploded limpet mine from the M/T Kokuka Courageous,” the statement read.
Limpet mines are naval explosives attached to vessels by magnets.
Earlier in the day, Iranian IRNA news agency reported that the country’s rescue services saved 44 sailors from tankers after a reported attack and took them to the Iranian port of Jask.
Kokuka Courageous tanker and another oil tanker, Front Altair, were hit by explosions in the Gulf of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the United States believes that Iran was behind the attacks, claiming that the assessment was based on intelligence, weapons used, and level of expertise needed to execute the operation.
Later, US Central Command said that US Navy destroyer USS Mason is en route to Gulf of Oman to provide assistance, noting that Washington has no interest in engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East.
Iran’s mission to the United Nations has rejected the US claim that Tehran was responsible for attacks, saying it was unfounded.