Iran and the US: Months of escalating tensions

Iran and the US: Months of escalating tensions

Iranians burn a US flag during a demonstration against American "crimes"
Iranians burn a US flag during a demonstration against American "crimes" AFP/ATTA KENARE

TEHRAN: Tensions between Iran and the United States have been steadily escalating for months. 

READ: Iran fires missiles at US troop bases in Iraq

After a US strike killed a top Iranian commander last week and Iran launched retaliation strikes on Wednesday, here is a review:

TERROR BLACKLIST

On Apr 8, 2019, Washington declares Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps a "terrorist" group. Its Quds Force, which operates abroad, is also put on the blacklist.

On May 5, White House national security adviser John Bolton announces the deployment of an aircraft carrier and a bomber task force to the Middle East.

READ: Qasem Soleimani: Everything we know so far after top Iran general was killed in US strike

READ: World reacts to US killing of top Iran general Qasem Soleimani

Iranian holds a picture of late General Qassem Soleimani in Tehran
An Iranian holds a picture of late General Qasem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, who was killed in an air strike at Baghdad airport. (File photo: Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS)

NUCLEAR ACCORD UNRAVELS

On May 8, a year after Washington unilaterally withdrew from an international 2015 deal curbing Iran's nuclear programme and reimposed sanctions, Tehran warns it is prepared to resume nuclear activity.

Trump announces new measures against Iran's steel and mining sectors.

ATTACKS ON SHIPS

On May 12, four ships, including three oil tankers, are damaged in mysterious attacks in the Gulf that the United States blames on Iran.

Saudi oil tanker Al-Marzoqah, one of the four tankers damaged in alleged "sabotage
Saudi oil tanker Al-Marzoqah, one of the four tankers damaged in alleged "sabotage attacks" in the Gulf of Oman on May 12 AFP/HANDOUT

On May 25, the United States says it is deploying 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East to counter "credible threats" from Iran.

Two tankers, Norwegian and Japanese, come under attack in the Gulf of Oman on Jun 13. Washington, London and Riyadh blame Iran, which denies involvement.

US DRONE SHOT DOWN

Iran's Revolutionary Guard says on Jun 20 it shot down a US drone that violated Iranian airspace near the Strait of Hormuz.

Trump approves a retaliatory strike, but cancels it at the last minute.

On Jun 24, Trump announces "hard-hitting" financial sanctions on Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and senior Iranian military leaders.

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks following the U.S. Military airstrike against Iranian
US President Donald Trump delivers remarks following the airstrike against Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad, Iraq on Jan 3, 2020. (File photo: REUTERS/Tom Brenner)

On Jul 18, Trump says the US military took down an Iranian drone that came dangerously close to one of its naval vessels in the Strait of Hormuz.

On Jul 1, Iran announces it has breached a cap on its uranium enrichment set out in the 2015 deal.

Commentary: The curious case of US presidents squandering power in the Middle East

SAUDI OIL ATTACK

On Sep 14, aerial attacks claimed by Yemen's Iran-backed Huthi rebels spark fires at two major Saudi oil facilities.

Tehran is accused by the United States and other powers of being responsible but denies involvement.

On Sep 20, Trump announces "the highest sanctions ever imposed on a country", hitting Iran's central bank.

On Nov 7, Tehran resumes uranium enrichment at its underground Fordo plant – its fourth walk-back from the 2015 nuclear accord.

US BACKS PROTESTERS

Iran is furious when the US expresses support for protesters who take to the streets on Nov 15 after a fuel price hike.

FILE PHOTO: People walk near a burnt bank, after protests against increased fuel prices, in Tehran
FILE PHOTO: People walk near a burnt bank, after protests against increased fuel prices, in Tehran, Iran November 20, 2019. Picture taken November 20, 2019. Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

The White House condemns Iran for using "lethal force" in the days of violence, which reportedly leaves scores dead. Iran's foreign ministry criticises "American economic terrorism".

US STRIKE KILLS COMMANDER

On Dec 29, the United States carries out air strikes against bases of a pro-Iran group in Iraq, killing at least 25 fighters.

The strikes are in retaliation for rocket attacks against US interests in Iraq, including one in which a US civilian contractor is killed on Dec 27.

Protests at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad
Protesters and militia fighters, burnt tires outside the U.S. Embassy during a protest to condemn air strikes on bases belonging to Hashd al-Shaabi (paramilitary forces), in Baghdad, Iraq January 1, 2020. REUTERS/Khalid al-Mousily

On Dec 31, pro-Iran protesters storm the US embassy compound in Baghdad expressing fury over the strikes. Trump warns Tehran it could "pay a very big price".

On Jan 3, 2020, a US strike kills top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, the Quds Force commander, in Iraq.

The Pentagon says Trump ordered the killing after the siege of the US embassy in Baghdad.

Burning debris are seen on a road near Baghdad International Airport
Burning debris are seen on a road near Baghdad International Airport, which according to Iraqi paramilitary groups were caused by three rockets hitting the airport in Iraq, January 3, 2020, in this image obtained via social media. Iraqi Security Media Cell via REUTERS

READ: US says it 'terminated' Soleimani to thwart attack on Americans; deploys troops

READ: US killing of Soleimani 'tantamount' to war, Iran's UN ambassador says

IRAN RESPONDS WITH MISSILES

At Soleimani's funeral on Jan 7, top Revolutionary Guards commander Major General Hossein Salami said Iran would "take revenge".

On Jan 8, Iran fires missiles at two Iraqi bases used by the US military. There are no immediate reports of casualties.

2020-01-08T014154Z_1601717474_RC2DBE9FBN63_RTRMADP_3_IRAQ-SECURITY-USA
An explosion is seen following missiles landing at what is believed to be Ain al-Asad Air Base in Iraq, in this still image taken from a video shot on January 8, 2020. Iran Press/Handout via REUTERS

Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif says the nation "took and concluded proportionate measures" in self-defence.

Source: AFP

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