TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is at MacDill Air Force Base as the standoff with Iran escalates.
Pompeo has a meeting at CENTCOM, which is responsible for military operations in the Middle East, including Iran.
On Monday, the Pentagon ordered another 1,000 American troops to the Middle East. The move seeks to increase security in a region reeling from hostile attacks on commercial ships that the U.S. has blamed on Iran.
Meanwhile, back in Washington in an effort to bolster its public case against Iran, the Pentagon on Monday released new photos that officials said show that members of Tehran’s Revolutionary Guard were responsible for attacks last week on two oil tankers near the Persian Gulf.
Officials last week said the move appeared to be an attempt to remove forensic evidence from the scene of the attack. But it’s not clear if examination of the mine would have made it definitively clear that the device was planted by the IRGC.
The images, many taken from a Navy helicopter, show what the Pentagon said were Iranian forces removing an unexploded mine from the side of the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman.
Other photos show a large hole on the side of the Courageous, above the water line, that officials say appears to have been caused by another similar mine.
The release of the photos came as the U.S. works this week to convince members of Congress and allies that the accusations against Tehran are true. Iran has denied involvement in the tanker attacks and has accused America of promoting an “Iranophobic” campaign. Tehran, however, has repeatedly threatened to close the vital Strait of Hormuz, through which 20% of the world’s oil flows.