Official: US Navy ship fires warning shots at Iranian boats

(CNN) — A US Navy ship fired warning shots at Iranian boats on Sunday near the Strait of Hormuz, a US official said Monday, citing initial reports.

Iranian vessels approached a US Navy ship near the strait in five separate instances at high rates of speed, the official said. The US Navy ship fired warning shots once, the official said.

The incident is the latest tense encounter between the two countries in and over waters near Iran over the months.

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These brushes have included Iranian rocket launches, drones flying over US vessels and the capture of US sailors.

They’ve come against the backdrop of renewed US diplomatic contacts with Iran, which has triggered a political backlash among Iranian hardliners, including Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The Strait of Hormuz, where the latest incident took place, is situated between the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf.

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In November, a US Navy Seahawk helicopter had what the Navy is calling an “unsafe and unprofessional encounter” with an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps patrol boat near the Strait of Hormuz.

The helicopter was flying overhead when the Iranians trained a weapon on it, according to a defense official. The Iranians did not fire. The event took place as the helicopter was escorting the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower on its way out of the Persian Gulf.

In September, Iran threatened to shoot down two US Navy aircraft as they were flying just inside the strait, a US defense official said. The EP-3 and P-8 planes were in international airspace but “near Iranian airspace.”

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In August, US Navy patrol craft fired three warning shots at an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps boat after US officials said it had harassed that patrol craft.

Another US patrol craft and a Kuwaiti Navy ship were also harassed in the incident, which took place in the northern end of the Persian Gulf.