A US Defense Department expert team concluded that the drone behind the deadly attack on the Mercer Street commercial vessel was produced in Iran, US Central Command said in a statement Friday.
The statement said that the investigative team dispatched to the vessel from the USS Ronald Reagan found that the ship off the coast of Oman was targeted on July 30 by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) “loaded with a military-grade explosive.” The attack killed two on board the vessel.
“The use of Iranian designed and produced one way attack ‘kamikaze’ UAVs is a growing trend in the region,” an executive summary included in an accompanying report said. “They are actively used by Iran and their proxies against coalition forces in the region, to include targets in Saudi Arabia and Iraq.”
The investigation found that the ship was targeted by two other unsuccessful UAV attacks on July 29.
The July 30 attack “required calculated and deliberate retargeting of M/T MERCER STREET by Iran,” the report said.
The statement from CENTCOM said that after the on-scene analysis “some of the material was transferred to U.S. Fifth Fleet headquarters in Manama, Bahrain and subsequently to a U.S. national laboratory for further testing and verification.” British experts “were provided access to the evidence at the Fifth Fleet headquarters” and “evidence was shared virtually with Israeli explosive experts.”
“Both partners concurred with the U.S. findings,” the statement said.
The release of the findings by the Pentagon follows a statement of condemnation from the G7 Foreign Ministers blaming Iran for the attack.
“All available evidence clearly points to Iran. There is no justification for this attack,” the joint statement Friday said.
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