Three warning shots were fired at an Iranian ship that came within 200 yards of a U.S. Navy ship in the Northern Persian Gulf in the narrow Strait of Hormuz Wednesday, after one of four close calls this week involving U.S. and Iranian vessels, a U.S. official confirmed to Fox News on Thursday.
The USS Squall fired the shots, according to the official.
On Tuesday, four Iranian small boats “harassed” the USS Nitze, sailing near the guided missile destroyer in the narrow Strait of Hormuz, a U.S. Navy official told Fox News.
Other close calls this week involved the USS Tempest and USS Stout, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters Thursday. The Pentagon described the incidents as “unsafe and unprofessional.”
U.S. Navy video of the Nitze incident showed American sailor firing flares and sounding the warship’s horn as the Iranian boats approached. The official said the Nitze was ultimately forced to change its course to avoid the Iranian ships, despite coming close to offshore oil rigs.
Earlier, U.S. Adm. John Richardson said the incident involving the Nitze reflected the greater competition the U.S. was facing at sea and underscored the naval tensions with Tehran, which include other similar incidents.
In January, Iran briefly detained 10 U.S. Navy sailors who mistakenly steered into Iranian waters.
Last December, Iranian ships fired rockets near U.S. warship and other vessels in the Strait of Hormuz, and a month later flew an unarmed drone over the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.
Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Gen. Hosein Dehghan as saying Thursday that “if any foreign vessel enters our waters, we warn them, and if it’s an invasion, we confront.” He added that Iranian boats patrol to monitor traffic and foreign vessels in its territorial waters.
U.S. military officials estimate there are now 100,000 Iranian-backed forces in Iraq, with thousands more believed to be in Syria.