As Iranian leaders were mourning the death of former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a dangerous confrontation was brewing between the US and Iranian naval forces near the Strait of Hormuz. Fars News Agency, an Iranian outlet affiliated with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), reported the incident but did not provide details. According to US officials, the USS Mahan fired warning shots at five Iranian vessels who were approaching the destroyer and two other US ships at high speed. When the IRGC boats disregarded the warnings and repeated requests to slow down, a US helicopter began to drop smoke grenades to deter the Iranian boats.
The incident is the latest in a series of hostile actions by the IRGC Navy in the Persian Gulf. Last year, the US Navy had a total of 35 encounters with the Iranian naval forces. The most high-profile incident occurred last January when Iran briefly captured 10 US sailors in the Gulf.
Neither the Iranian government nor the Trump transition team have commented on today’s incident. But in September, Donald Trump said during the campaign season that he would order any Iranian boats that made improper “gestures” in the Gulf to be “shot out of the water.”