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US Navy Ship Fires Warning Shots Near Iranian Vessels | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Sailors man the rails as aircraft carrier USS Nimitz with Carrier Strike Group 11, and some 7,500 sailors and airmen depart for a 6 month deployment in the Western Pacific from San Diego, California, U.S., June 5, 2017.

London- The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said on Saturday that US Navy ships came close to their vessels in the Gulf, for the second time within days, at a time when Iran pledged to continue its ballistic program fully and denounced new sanctions by the Congress.

Nimitz and an accompanying warship drew close to a rocket-bearing Iranian vessel on Friday and sent out a helicopter near a number of IRGC vessels close to an oil and gas platform, IRGC said in a statement published by their official news site Sepah News.

“The Americans made a provocative and unprofessional move by issuing a warning and shooting flares at vessels,” the statement said.

“IRGC members, without paying attention to this unconventional and unusual behavior from the American vessels, continued their mission in the area and the aircraft carrier and accompanying battleship left the area,” it added.

A US military statement said a US Navy helicopter saw several IRGC vessels approaching US forces at a high rate of speed and deployed flares after it could not establish communications with the boats.

US Naval Forces Central Command said the patrol craft, named Thunderbolt, fired the warning shots in front of the Iranian vessel after it ignored radio calls, flares and the ship’s whistle — the vessel belonged to the IRGC, the statement said, adding that it stopped its unsafe approach after the warning shots were fired.

A US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the Iranian boat was armed but that the weapons were unmanned. The Thunderbolt was accompanied by a number of other vessels, including those from the US Coast Guard.