US ship fired warning shots at Iran vessel

A file photo released by the US Navy, showing the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman navigating the Gulf of Oman. (AP)

A US Navy ship fired warning shots toward an Iranian fast-attack craft that approached two US ships, a Pentagon spokesman said on Thursday, in the most serious of a number of incidents in the Gulf area this week.

"They did feel compelled ultimately to fire three warning shots and the reason for that is... they had taken steps already to try and de-escalate this situation," spokesman Peter Cook told reporters.

Tensions have increased in the Gulf in recent days despite an improvement in relations between Iran and the United States.

Iran’s naval forces will warn or confront any foreign ship entering the country’s territorial waters, the Iranian defense minister said Thursday, remarks that came after an incident this week involving a US warship.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Gen. Hosein Dehghan as saying that “if any foreign vessel enters our waters, we warn them, and if it’s an invasion, we confront.” He added that Iranian boats patrol to monitor traffic and foreign vessels in its territorial waters.

Dehghan’s comments came after four Iranian small boats sailed near the guided missile destroyer USS Nitze on Wednesday in the Persian Gulf. The US Navy described the incident as “unsafe and unprofessional” and said it occurred in international waters in the narrow Strait of Hormuz.

US Navy video of the incident obtained by The Associated Press shows American sailors on the Nitze firing flares and sounding the warship's horn as the Iranian boats approached.

Earlier, US Adm. John Richardson said the incident involving the Nitze reflects the greater competition the US is facing at sea and underscores the naval tensions with Tehran, which include other similar incidents.

(With AP, Reuters)

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:49 - GMT 06:49
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