Arab League chief urges Iran to 'reverse course' amid escalating tensions with US

Arab League chief urges Iran to 'reverse course' amid escalating tensions with US
The head of the Arab League has called on his 'Iranian brothers' to reverse course and avoid a confrontation in the region.
3 min read
15 June, 2019
Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit urged Iran to avoid a crippling regional conflict [Getty]
The head of the Arab League is calling on the Iranians to "be careful and reverse course" after new oil tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman further escalated tensions in the region.

Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit noted after meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at UN headquarters in New York on Friday that there are conflicting reports about how Thursday's tanker incidents occurred.

"We believe that responsibilities need to be clearly defined," he said. "The facts will be revealed, I am sure, it's only a matter of time."

The US claim the Iranians are responsible for the attacks near the strategic Strait of Hormuz. The Iranians say they were not involved.

Aboul Gheit said: "My call to my Iranian - and I call them Iranian brothers: Be careful and reverse course because you're pushing everybody towards a confrontation that no one would be safe if it happens."

The British government said it agrees with a US conclusion that Iran attacked two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman in a Foreign Office statement Friday.

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UN Secretary-General Guterres is calling for an independent investigation into the suspected attacks on the tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, saying it's important to know the truth about what happened.

The UN chief reiterated to reporters Friday that "we believe it is very important to avoid, at all costs, a major confrontation in the Gulf".

Iran has denied any involvement in the attacks saying US accusations were "baseless", and that its troops witnessed the event and saved the crew.

Video released by Iranian state media showed smoke billowing from two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, with at least one of those on fire.

Iranian naval units rescued the crews of the ships after they made a mayday call following the explosions.

The crew of a Japanese ship reported a "flying object" during the attack.

"The crew members are saying that they were hit by a flying object. They saw it with their own eyes," Yutaka Katada, head of Kokuka Sangyo shipping company, told reporters.

"We have received a report saying that something seems to have flew in, there was an explosion and it created a hole in the body of the ship," he added.

The US has accused Tehran, with President Donald Trump saying it "Iran written all over it".

"Iran did do it," Trump said in an interview on "Fox and Friends," after the US military released footage it claimed showed an Iranian patrol boat removing an "unexploded limpet mine" from one of the tankers.

"You know they did it because you saw the boat," Trump said. "I guess one of the mines didn't explode and it's probably got essentially Iran written all over it."

Agencies contributed to this report.

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