PRESIDENT Donald Trump said he's told the U.S. Navy to "shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea."
Trump issued the warning on Wednesday after Iranian naval boats were filmed "harassing" and "taunting" U.S. Navy warships in the Persian Gulf.
Following Trump's tweet, Fox News reported that the USS Paul Hamilton, a guided-missile destroyer, "did some target practice in the Persian Gulf earlier this month."
Iranian speedboats were filmed last week harassing a U.S. Navy ship in the Persian Gulf.
After the drone killing of the Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani in January, the Trump administration claimed it had “restored deterrence” against Iranian military ambitions in the region.
But the close encounters and the aggressive tactics pursued by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, visible from photos and video released by the U.S. Fifth Fleet, appear to show otherwise.
On Sunday, the IRGC warned the U.S. about its military activities in the Gulf, and warned their Navy had increased patrols in the region.
In a statement, the IRGC said Iran would respond to any "mistake" by the U.S. in the Gulf.
The Persian Gulf drama comes on the heels of reports of a Russian jet flying within 25 feet of a U.S. surveillance plane during an "unsafe" maneuver at high-speed over the Mediterranean Sea.
The incidents serve a reminder that the coronavirus pandemic has not ended dangerous military rivalries around the world.
A Kremlin SU-35 carried out an "inverted" intercept on a U.S. P-8A Poseidon aircraft that lasted 42 minutes yesterday, the U.S. Navy said in a statement.
One of the Navy's aircraft was intercepted by the Russian jet while flying in international airspace over the Mediterranean Sea.
Elsewhere in the Persian Gulf last week, Iranian Navy vessels came within 10 yards of American warships in what the Navvy described as a series of "dangerous and harassing approaches."
According to the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, 11 small Iranian boats circled six U.S. warships.
"The IRGCN vessels repeatedly crossed the bows and sterns of the U.S. vessels at extremely close range and high speeds," a statement said, adding that the Iranian vessels performed multiple crossings of two of the U.S. ships, coming as close as 10 yards.
The statement continued: "U.S. crews issued multiple warnings via bridge-to-bridge radio, five short blasts from the ships’ horns and long-range acoustic noise-maker devices, but received no response."
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