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Saturday August 17th, 2019 7:43AM

The Latest: Israel PM says he supports US amid Iran tensions

By The Associated Press
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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Latest on developments in the Persian Gulf region amid rising tensions between Iran and the U.S. (all times local):

7:50 p.m.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is appealing to "all peace-loving countries" to support American efforts to halt what he called escalating Iranian provocations.

Speaking Thursday at a reception for the New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Netanyahu said that "in the last 24 hours, Iran has intensified its aggression against the United States and against all of us," adding that "Israel stands by the United States and its military."

He spoke shortly after Iran's Revolutionary Guard shot down a U.S. surveillance drone in the Strait of Hormuz. Heightened tensions in recent weeks have raised fears of war between the two countries.

Israeli officials have welcomed Washington's mounting pressure on Tehran, but steered clear of calling for a conflagration that might put Israel in the line of fire

___

4:55 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is warning the U.S. against using force on Iran, saying it would have catastrophic consequences.

Tensions have been building up recently over last week's attacks on tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, assaults that Washington has blamed on Iran. Iran has denied the accusations.

Speaking on Thursday during a televised call-in show, Putin said the U.S. military action against Iran would be a "catastrophe for the region as a minimum."

He added that it would trigger an escalation of hostilities with unpredictable results.

Putin noted that Iran has abided by the terms of a nuclear deal despite the U.S. withdrawal, adding that he considers U.S. sanctions against Iran unfounded.

___

3:35 p.m.

The U.S. military's Central Command has confirmed that Iranian forces shot down a U.S. drone, an RQ-4 Global Hawk, saying the downing took place in international airspace and describing it as an "unprovoked attack."

A statement from CENTCOM says the unmanned aircraft — an RQ-4A Global Hawk maritime surveillance drone — was "shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz" early on Thursday.

The statement further said that "Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false" and that "this was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace."

___

2:20 p.m.

Iran's foreign ministry has warned the United States over violating Iranian airspace after the Revolutionary Guard shot down a U.S drone earlier in the day.

A ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, is quoted by the semi-official Tasnim news agency as saying that Iran cannot condone the "illegal trespassing and invading of the country's skies by any kind of foreign flying object."

Iran's Revolutionary Guard says it shot down the American drone over Iranian airspace, while U.S. officials say it happened over international airspace in the Strait of Hormuz.

Mousavi expressed Iran's "strong objection" and added that the "invaders will bear full responsibility."

___

12:45 p.m.

Saudi Arabia says Yemen's Houthi rebels have fired a rocket into the kingdom targeting a desalination plant, but that no one was wounded and the rocket caused no damage.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency on Thursday reported the attack, quoting military spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki. The attack took place late Wednesday night.

The Iranian-backed Houthis through their Al-Masirah satellite channel claimed that they targeted a power plant in Jizan in Saudi Arabia.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders earlier said President Donald Trump had been "briefed on the reports of a missile strike in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

It wasn't immediately clear why the U.S. would brief Trump over the incident if it caused no damage.

The attack comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. over Tehran's collapsing nuclear deal with world powers.

___

10:40 a.m.

The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard says the shooting down of a U.S. drone has sent "a clear message" to America.

Gen. Hossein Salami said also says that Iran does "not have any intention for war with any country, but we are ready for war."

His speech was carried live on Iranian state television on Thursday, shortly after U.S. and Iranian officials acknowledged the shooting down of the drone.

The Guard says it shot down the American drone over Iranian airspace, while U.S. officials told The Associated Press the downing happened over international airspace in the Strait of Hormuz.

The different accounts could not be immediately reconciled.

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10:25 a.m.

A U.S. official says that an Iranian surface-to-air missile shot down a U.S. drone flying in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.

The official spoke to The Associated Press on Thursday on condition of anonymity as the information had yet to be cleared for release to the public.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard said Thursday it shot down a U.S. drone amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington over its collapsing nuclear deal.

It said the U.S. drone was flying in Iranian airspace, contradicting the U.S. official.

The reported downing of the RQ-4 Global Hawk comes after the U.S. military previously alleged Iran fired a missile at another drone last week that responded to the attack on two oil tankers near the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. blames Iran for the attack on the ships, something Tehran denies.

—Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates;

___

7 a.m.

Iran's state-run IRNA news agency says the country's Revolutionary Guard has shot down a U.S. drone. The U.S. military declined to immediately comment.

IRNA said Thursday the drone was hit when it entered Iranian airspace near the Kouhmobarak district in southern Iran's Hormozgan province.

IRNA, citing the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, identified the drone as an RQ-4 Global Hawk.

Capt. Bill Urban, a U.S. Central Command spokesman, declined to comment when asked if an American drone was shot down.

However, he told The Associated Press: "There was no drone over Iranian territory."

The reported shootdown comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. It takes root in President Donald Trump's decision a year ago to withdraw America from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers.

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