Iran: US forces provoked us in the Persian Gulf

Revolutionary Guard acknowledges tense encounter with US warships in Persian Gulf, but claims American forces sparked the incident.

Elad Benari ,

US Marine observes Iran fast attack craft in Straight of Hormuz
US Marine observes Iran fast attack craft in Straight of Hormuz
Reuters

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on Sunday acknowledged it had a tense encounter with US warships in the Persian Gulf last week, but also claimed that it was American forces who sparked the incident, The Associated Press reported.

The incident last Wednesday saw the US Navy release video of small Iranian fast boats coming close to American warships as they operated in the northern Persian Gulf near Kuwait, with US Army Apache helicopters.

The Guard, however, claimed on Sunday that its forces were conducting a drill and faced “the unprofessional and provocative actions of the United States and their indifference to warnings.” It said the Americans later withdrew.

The Guard released no evidence to support its allegation, but did release a video showing an Iranian boat traveling in parallel with a US warship. At one point, a deck-mounted machine gun on the Iranian vessel is seen pointed toward the American ship.

The Guard also accused American forces of blocking Iranian warships on April 6 and April 7 as well.

In response, Lt. Pete Pagano, a spokesman for the US Navy's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, told AP the Navy stood by its earlier description of the incident Wednesday.

“Regarding any other interactions with our ships, US forces continue to remain vigilant and are trained to act in a professional manner,” he said.

The incident comes amid ongoing tensions between Iran and the US.

Iran regularly holds drills at the Strait of Hormuz, which is located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf and through which about a third of all oil traded at sea passes.

The Islamic Republic has threatened more than once to close the Strait of Hormuz, with the United States warning Iran in response that any attempt to close the strait would be viewed as a "red line" -- grounds for US military action.

In the last few years there have been several close encounters between Iranian and American vessels in the area.

Most recently, noted AP, armed men boarded a Hong Kong-flagged tanker ship off the coast of Iran near the Strait of Hormuz last Tuesday, holding the ship for a short time near the Iranian coast before releasing it.

Though Iran has not acknowledged the incident, private security firms say the Guard was behind the seizure.



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