BREAKING NEWS – Saudi owned Al Arabiya television said an Iranian “force” seized a US cargo ship in the Gulf on Tuesday and directed it to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. The channel said the force had “opened fire” on the US ship, which had 34 US sailors aboard. It gave no further details. The US Fifth Fleet in the Gulf Arab kingdom of Bahrain had no immediate comment on the report. The incident comes amid tensions between the US and Iran over the presence of Iranian ships in the Persian gulf that the US feared were bringing arms to Iranian-backed Houthi Shi’ite rebels in Yemen.
However tensions seemed to have been deflated over the weekend when the Iranians turned their ships around. On Friday, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter told a small group of journalists traveling with him after a trip to California: “The (Iranian) ships have turned around … Obviously what their onward plans are, we don’t know. “It is a welcome event because it does contribute to de-escalation and that’s what we’re trying to suggest to all the parties there, is the best course, and those parties include the Iranians,” Carter said. Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said earlier the flotilla was in international waters about midway along the coast of Oman on Friday and still headed northeast. MORE