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Tehran reiterates stance against escalation of tensions

U.S. Army Capt. Eric Morton center commander of the 101st Airborne Division's Company B 1st Battalion 35th Armor Regiment walks with Iraqi Maj. Ahmed Hassan and Iraqi 1st Lt. Yasev Mutasam through Shakriyah Iraq area during Operation New Town June

"During the war, we did not have a problem with our banks, oil sales or imports and exports", he said. The country hosts more than 5,000 USA troops, and is home to powerful Iranian-backed militias, some of whom want those US forces to leave.

Tuesday's attacks and Sunday's attacks on four tankers off Fujairah emirate have raised concerns that the U.S. and Iran might inching toward military conflict. However, the officials characterized the threat as not more credible or imminent than it was in the week prior, as the US moved military assets to the region and warned of Iranian-related threats. The US corporate media, acting as a pliant propaganda arm of the war build-up, has quoted unnamed US military officials attributing the alleged sabotage to Iran, while providing no evidence whatsoever to support this claim.

The presidential candidate and Iraq war veteran added, "What we're seeing instead are actions coming from President Trump and his administration, led by John Bolton, that are dangerously escalating us closer and closer toward a devastating war with Iran". The recently appointed commander of the IRGC, Major General Hossein Salami, cautioned his subordinates that the current escalation has presented "the most decisive moment for the Islamic Revolution, because the enemies (of Iran) have come to the battlefield with all of their capabilities".

The U.S. State Department has ordered the withdrawal of all non-emergency personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and U.S. Consulate in Erbil amid mounting tensions with Iran and threats to U.S. government employees.

When asked by a White House reporter Thursday if the United States was going to war with Iran, President Trump quickly replied, "I hope not".

"I'm sure that Iran will want to talk soon", Trump said via Twitter, while denying reports that his administration is divided on matters of Middle East policy.

A general at Iraq's Defence Ministry said Iraq was taking precautionary security measures in light of the information about threats against US interests, although those measures have not reached the highest levels.

"We have begun to launch air strikes targeting sites operated by the Huthi militia, including in Sanaa", a coalition official, who declined to be identified, told AFP.

The Trump administration has remained wary of the Iraqi militias.

U.S. President Donald Trump held a meeting with Swiss president Ueli Maurer, amid multiple reports that the Swiss government may facilities discussions between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran over recent the ongoing stand-off. The new LNG tariff adds to a previous 10% tariff from China on US LNG.

Earlier this year, Trump provoked outrage in Baghdad when he said he wanted USA troops to stay in Iraq so they can "watch Iran", suggesting a changing mission for American troops there.

The statement was in contrast to comments from the Trump administration and the Pentagon, who have asserted for more than a week that they have detected potential Iranian threats against USA forces in the Middle East.

But Germany and the Netherlands said Wednesday that they were suspending training of soldiers in Iraq due to a "generally heightened" state of alert. The website, whose analysts monitor oil sales on the seas, first reported about the black marks.

Iran's armed forces chief of staff Mohammad Bagheri warned last month "other countries' oil will certainly not cross the strait" if Tehran's own exports are blocked.

Some observers speculate that Tehran is seeking to retaliate over Washington's decision in April to put Iran's Revolutionary Guards on a terror blacklist - a move created to stymie their activities across the Middle East.