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Iranian military officials announced on Wednesday that the country’s forces had issued a “serious warning” to a U.S. warship in the Persian Gulf, chasing it out of an area in which the Islamic Republic has been holding war drills.
Iranian destroyers warned at least two U.S. warships that they were sailing too close to the area in the Strait of Hormuz where Iranian forces are running their war drills, according to military officials quoted in the country’s state-controlled press. The U.S. vessels were ordered to leave the area.
“The USS MONTEREY (CG 61), a TICONDEROGA class cruiser, was sailing near the Strait of Hormuz where the Iranian forces were staging the main phase of the Velayat 94 massive wargames along the country's Southeastern Makran seashores on the rims of the Persian Gulf on Wednesday,” Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency reported, citing military officials.
The latest standoff comes following the capture and release by Iran of 10 U.S. sailors who had drifted into the country’s territory.
Iranian military officials accused the United States of attempting to spy on the war drills.
"Some still seem to be holding no belief in Iran's naval power; hence they attempt to come close to get informed of our moves and capabilities," Habibollah Sayari, commander of Iran’s Navy, was quoted as saying.
“The US warship left the region immediately after receiving the warning,” Iran’s army claimed.
A State Department official told the Washington Free Beacon Wednesday afternoon that it is aware of the war drills, but had not seen any evidence that U.S. forces in the region altered their normal operations as a result of Iran’s warning.
“We're aware of the specific Iranian military exercise referred to in press reports, but we're not aware of any resulting change in posture or alteration of planned course or schedule by any U.S. forces in the region,” according to the official, who was not authorized to speak on record.
The official referred the Free Beacon to the Pentagon for further information. Multiple Defense Department officials, including U.S. Central Command, did not respond to multiple requests for further information.
Iran published pictures of what it claimed were the ship it ordered out of the area.
Iranian military officials say that the latest war drills are proof of the country’s regional dominance and indicate the United States fears Tehran’s offensive power.
“The Americans tried to contain us through [United Nations] resolutions. They wanted to undermine our deterrence power," Hossein Ta'eb, an intelligence official with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
“The United States got the message that Iran's deterrence power is here to stay,” the official said, citing the country’s recent test firing of ballistic missiles and continued work on advance weaponry.
Update 8:37 p.m.: Following publication of this article, a U.S. Central Command spokesman told the Free Beacon that there had been no disruption to U.S. operations.
“There has been no disruption to our operations. VELAYAT is an annual exercise conducted by the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy involving surface, subsurface and air units," said U.S. Navy Commander Kyle Raines. "NAVCENT is aware of this annual exercise and does not view the exercise as a cause for concern. We continue to operate in accordance with professional maritime standards and international law within the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Red Sea."
Update 1:58 p.m.: According to a Centcom official, the USS Monterey is not in the Gulf region.
"USS Monterey, the ship identified in Iranian media reports as having left the scene following an Iranian warning, is not in the Gulf region, but in her homeport of Norfolk, Virginia," the official said.
"Iran announced closure areas for live fire events associated with its exercise. This is a common practice for any navy conducting such training at sea," the official continued. "Our forces similarly announce closure areas for our training events. We do not consider such announcements to be ‘serious warnings.' In fact, no US units took any action as a result of what the IRIN might have characterized as a warning. We did have units who heard the closure area announcements, but it did not cause them to alter their planned course or schedule."