Shoot down and destroy all Iranian gunboats that “harass our ships at sea”, Trump instructs US Navy


U.S. President Donald Trump has ordered the U.S. Navy to “shoot down and destroy” Iranian gunboats, should they harass American vessels at sea. His declaration comes after a confrontation in the Persian Gulf.

“I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea,” the U.S. president tweeted on Wednesday morning.

A week earlier, the U.S. Navy accused the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) of “dangerous and provocative” actions, claiming that nearly a dozen Iranian vessels buzzed a group of U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf.

The U.S. Fifth Fleet later published video footage of the encounter, which showed the gunboats circling a larger U.S. ship.

Tehran brushed off the accusations, disputing the “Hollywood” scenario portrayed by the U.S.

The Iranian government considers U.S. naval activity in the gulf highly provocative. The Iranian Navy condemned the patrol as “adventurism.”

The U.S. and Iran almost came to war at the beginning of the year, when the U.S. assassinated Iranian General Qassem Soleimani with a drone strike at an airport in Baghdad, apparently in retribution for a series of Iranian-sponsored attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq.

However, tension in the Persian Gulf has been high since last summer, when the U.S. and its Western allies blamed Iran for a series of sabotage attacks on oil infrastructure in the region. U.S.-led naval patrols were stepped up, and American troops and air defense systems were sent to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Based in nearby Bahrain, the U.S. Fifth Fleet has been active in the gulf both before and since the flare up last year. The U.S. insists patrols are essential to protect shipping routes against Iran’s “malign behavior.”

Another media report said:

U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf have been authorized to open fire on Iranian ships if they ‘harass’ them at sea, President Donald Trump said, as tensions between Washington and Tehran escalated despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We’re not going to stand for it. if they do that, that’s putting our ships in danger and our great crews and sailors in danger – I’m not going to let that happen. And we will – they’ll shoot them out of the water,” Trump said on Wednesday during the daily White House press conference normally dedicated to the pandemic response.

He would not say if that meant a change to the rules of engagement (ROE) currently in effect.

Trump accused the Iranian Navy of once again harassing the U.S. naval forces currently deployed in the Persian Gulf, saying there had been an incident on Tuesday in addition to the Pentagon’s claims from last week.

That provided some context for his tweet earlier in the day, threatening to “shoot down and destroy” Iranian boats, but resulted in plenty of confusion about the rules under which U.S. warships would be allowed to open fire.

Last Wednesday, the Pentagon claimed that 11 boats of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) “repeatedly conducted dangerous and harassing approaches” of six U.S. ships as they conducted drills with army attack helicopters “in the international waters of the North Arabian Gulf” (the U.S. name for that body of water).

The boats came within 50 yards of the expeditionary vessel USS ‘Lewis B. Puller,’ and within 10 yards of the Coast Guard cutter USCGC ‘Maui,’ the US Department of Defense said.

Tehran denounced the US claim as “false and fake stories” and released its own video of the incident, accusing the U.S. Navy of “adventurism” and failure to follow international law and maritime protocols regulating navigation in the Persian Gulf.



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