Pentagon says Iranian helicopter came close to US warship in Gulf of Oman

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An Iranian navy helicopter came close to a US Navy warship in the Gulf of Oman and circled it three times without impacting US operations, the Pentagon said on Monday.

“An Iranian helicopter approached the USS Essex in the Gulf of Oman. It operated in an unsafe and unprofessional manner, flying approximately 25 yards (22.9 meters) off the port side of the Essex. At one point, as low as about 10 feet (3 meters) off the surface of the ocean,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said.

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“It circled the ship three times… The crew of the Essex took the appropriate protection measures, and they acted their course in accordance with international law. There was no impact ultimately to the Essex transit or their operations,” he added.

“Tehran needs to be pressed on why they thought this was a prudent use of their pilots and their aircraft to fly so dangerously close to a US warship… The questions really should be asked of Tehran and the Iranian navy,” Kirby said.

Incidents between the US and Iran in the Gulf have been reported over the past few years as tensions between Washington and Tehran have escalated.

The Iranian regime considers US military presence in the Middle East a threat to Iran’s security.

The latest incident comes two weeks before Iran and the West are scheduled to resume talks to revive the abandoned 2015 nuclear deal in Vienna at the end of the month.

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