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Iran and the US: Months of escalating tensions

After a US strike killed a top Iranian commander Friday, here is a recap of events that have heightened tensions between the two countries.

Protesters burn US flags as they shout slogans against the United States during a demonstration following a US airstrike that killed top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in Iraq, in Islamabad on 3 January 2020. Picture: AFP

TEHRAN - Tensions between Iran and the United States have been steadily escalating with Washington tightening sanctions, Tehran resuming nuclear activity and a series of incidents in the flashpoint Gulf.

After a US strike killed a top Iranian commander Friday, here is a recap.

TERROR BLACKLIST

On 8 April 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 5 May, White House national security adviser John Bolton announces the deployment of an aircraft carrier and a bomber task force to the Middle East.

NUCLEAR ACCORD UNRAVELS

On 8 May, 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 12 May, four ships, including three oil tankers, are damaged in mysterious attacks in the Gulf that the United States blames on Iran.

On 25 May, 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 13 June. Washington, London and Riyadh blame Iran, which denies involvement.

US DRONE SHOT DOWN

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

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

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

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

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

SAUDI OIL ATTACK

On 14 September, 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 20 September, Trump announces "the highest sanctions ever imposed on a country", hitting Iran's central bank.

On 7 November, Tehran resumes uranium enrichment at its underground Fordo plant - its fourth walkback from the 2015 nuclear accord.

US BACKS PROTESTERS

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

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 29 December, 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 27 December.

On 31 December, 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 3 January 2020 a US strike kills top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, the Quds Force commander, in Iraq.

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