Just after his trip to Tehran where he met with Iran's president Rouhani as well as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, during which a Japanese owned tanker was attacked in the nearby Gulf of Oman on Thursday along with another international vessel, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the suspected attack in official statements.
Speaking to reporters Friday he said: “Japan adamantly condemns the act that threatened a Japanese ship, no matter who attacked,” and further urged “all related countries” to avoid any "accidental confrontation" or an escalation of tensions.
The Trump ally also spoke to the US president by phone on Friday, reportedly briefing him on his visit to Iran, Abe confirmed in his remarks, though without detailing what he conveyed to the White House. Trump had previously said during a Fox & Friends telephone interview that "it’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it."
A number of media pundits and even mainstream news networks like CNN raised an unusual level of skepticism regarding the attacks being hastily penned on Iran by Washington as well as the UK.
Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued its own statements amid broader calls in Europe for "constraint" in assigning premature blame. Russia accused the US of "stoking tensions," according to the AP, based on Washington's “Iranophobic” stance which seeks to “artificially” fuel tensions, according to the ministry statement.
Russia’s statement further condemned the attack incident but called for a “thorough and unbiased international probe.”
Importantly, Russia also thanked Iran for helping rescue 11 Russian nationals who had been aboard one of the tankers, which is a stark contradiction to the claims of US officials, who are now saying Iran had detained the crew.
If the whole saga which began early Thursday morning weren't already bizarre enough with competing claims and counterclaims concerning basic facts concerning what happened, now we have this bombshell assertion via Fox:
U.S. officials have told Fox News that the crew of one of the two stricken oil tankers damaged outside the Persian Gulf were detained by the Iranians Thursday after first being rescued by another merchant vessel.
The crew of the Front Altair was first rescued by the Hyundai Dubai, according to U.S. officials, but Iranian gunboats quickly surrounded the ship and demanded the crew be turned over. The captain ultimately relented and ordered his crew to surrender.
The report adds shockingly that "The 23 crew members are now being held in Iran. It’s not immediately clear what the next steps are." It has been confirmed that the 11 Russian nationals are among the 23 crew members from the Front Altair that US officials are now claiming as being "detained" in Iran.
Iran's Press TV had shown the crew members in footage in "full health" relaxing on couches - which apparently US officials are spinning as a "hostage video" of sorts.
More via Fox:
Pictures and footage from Iran's English-language Press TV showed the crew members, saying they are all in "full health". The 23 crew members, who were apparently in the Iranian southern port town of Bandar-e-Jask, appeared to be watching a speech by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
So essentially, the Russian Foreign Ministry is thanking Iran for "rescuing" its nationals from the boat while US officials are simultaneously claiming crew members have been detained.
Could this unfolding drama in the Persian Gulf get any weirder at this point? Indeed there's likely much more bizarre and brazen claims to come.