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US destroyer fires warning shots at Iranian vessel

The USS Squall patrol craft fired three warning shots from a .50 caliber gun after warning flares did not work Photograph: (AFP)

Agencies Washington, United States Aug 25, 2016, 09.35 PM (IST)
A US Navy ship fired warning shots after an Iranian fast-attack craft approached two US ships in the northern Gulf, a Pentagon official said yesterday, in the most serious of a number of incidents in the same area this week.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the USS Squall patrol craft fired three warning shots from a .50 caliber gun after warning flares did not work.

The incident, which happened on Wednesday, started with three Iranian vessels, but there was only one around by the time the warning shots were fired, the official said. He described the Iranian behaviour as "unsafe, unprofessional, and not routine."

At one point, the Iranian vessel came within 200 yards (193 meters) of a US ship, the official said.

Iranian ships harassed US naval vessels in three recent incidents, a US official said yesterday.

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

The most dramatic moment in Wednesday's three events occurred when an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps boat maneuvered around two US patrol ships, the USS Squall and USS Tempest.
 
A State Department spokeswoman said it was not clear what the intentions of the Iranian ships were, but the behavior was unacceptable.

All three of Wednesday's encounters occurred in international waters in the northern Persian Gulf, Navy spokesman Commander Bill Urban said.

The incidents come after the Pentagon accused Iranian vessels of harassing a US warship near the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday.

Earlier yesterday, Iran's defense minister said those Iranian vessels were just doing their job.

“If an American ship enters Iran’s maritime region, it will definitely get a warning. We will monitor them and, if they violate our waters, we will confront them,” defence minister Hossein Dehghan said in a statement reported by the Iranian Students’ News Agency.

A State Department spokeswoman said it was not clear what the intentions of the Iranian ships were, but the behavior was unacceptable.

"We believe that these type of actions are of concern, they unnecessarily escalate tensions," State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told a briefing.

In January, the Iranian navy briefly captured the crews of two US patrol boats that had, through a series of blunders, strayed into Iranian territorial waters.

The 10 American sailors were released within 24 hours.


(WION with inputs from agencies)
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