US offers Iran condolences following friendly fire incident

US military offers condolences to Iran after friendly fire incident that saw an Iranian missile kill 19 Iranian troops.

Elad Benari ,

Iranian Jamaran frigate
Iranian Jamaran frigate

The US military on Thursday offered condolences to Iran after a friendly fire incident in the Islamic Republic that saw an Iranian missile kill 19 Iranian troops, The Associated Press reported.

Iranian authorities said that the missile struck the Iranian navy vessel Konarak near the port of Jask, some 1,270 kilometers (790 miles) southeast of Tehran in the Gulf of Oman overnight Sunday.

Authorities said the Konarak was too close to a target and was accidentally hit in an incident that also wounded 15 troops.

Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for the US Central Command, said in a statement on Thursday that the force offered “our sincere condolences to the Iranian people for the tragic loss of life.” However, Urban also criticized the training for taking place so close to the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20% of all oil passes.

“While we are troubled that this mishap occurred in such close proximity to a high-traffic international shipping lane and at a time when most of the region’s focus is on the fight against COVID-19, the unnecessary loss of life is regrettable,” he said, according to AP.

Tensions between the US and Iran have been on the rise in recent years, including regarding Iran’s presence in the Persian Gulf.

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, the US accused Iran of conducting “dangerous and harassing” maneuvers near American warships in the northern Persian Gulf.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard later acknowledged it had a tense encounter with US warships in the Persian Gulf, but also claimed that it was American forces who sparked the incident.