A U.S. Navy ship fired three warning shots after an Iranian craft approached and circled two U.S. Navy ships and a Kuwaiti vessel in the northern Gulf on Wednesday, CNN reported on Thursday.
It said the U.S. ship fired the shots into the water after the Iranian ship did not leave after a brief radio conversation, CNN said, citing U.S. officials. The United States on Wednesday had reported another incident in which it said Iranian vessels harassed a U.S. warship near the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday.
Four of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) vessels had “harassed” a U.S. warship on Tuesday near the Strait of Hormuz, a U.S. defense official said, amid Washington’s concerns about Iran’s posture in the Gulf and in the Syrian civil war.
The intention of four Iranian vessels that approached a U.S. warship in international waters in the Strait of Hormuz this week were not clear, but such actions can escalate tensions, the White House said on Thursday.
“At this point, it’s not clear what the intentions of the Iranian ships were, but the behavior is not acceptable, given that this U.S. ship was in international waters,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at a news briefing.
“These types of actions and incidents are concerning and they have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions.”
The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday that two of the Iranian vessels came within 300 yards of the USS Nitze in an incident that was “unsafe and unprofessional.”
The vessels harassed the destroyer by “conducting a high speed intercept and closing within a short distance of Nitze, despite repeated warnings,” the official said.
The United States and other countries are concerned about Iran’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, its ballistic missile program, and its backing for Shiite militias that have abused civilians in Iraq.
The U.S. defense official said that in Tuesday’s incident the USS Nitze tried to communicate with the Iranian vessels 12 times, but received no response. It also fired 10 flares in the direction of two of the Iranian vessels.