U.S. Navy ship fires warning shots at Iranian vessels

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A U.S. Navy ship has fired several warning shots after four Iranian vessels closed in at a high rate of speed in the Strait of Hormuz and failed to respond to radio communications, U.S. officials say, just months after a similar incident.

Two U.S. defense officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Reuters news agency that the latest incident happened on Sunday when four Iranian fast-attack vessels approached the USS Mahan at a high rate of speed.

The crew of the USS Mahan was able to establish radio communication with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, but they did not respond to requests to slow down and instead continued to ask questions. The officials did not say what sort of questions were being asked.

Because the Iranian vessels failed to slow down, a U.S. Navy helicopter dropped a smoke float and the Mahan fired three warning flares, the officials told Reuters. The Iranian boats came within 900 yards (800 meters) of the Mahan before they turned around.

The latest incident comes less than 2 weeks before the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who warned in September that Iranian vessels that harass U.S. Navy ships “will be shot out of the water” under his leadership. Those comments came after a U.S. vessel fired warning shots at an Iranian boat.

Relations between Iran and the United States have improved after world powers reached a nuclear deal with the country, but the situation has become increasingly tense after Trump won the election and the U.S. Congress voted to extend sanctions against Iran, which Iran claims to be a violation of the nuclear deal.

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