18:56 GMT20 September 2020
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    The Iranian military threatened to shoot down two US Navy surveillance jets for flying close to its territorial waters over the weekend, officials told a US television news network on Monday.

    Riverine Command Boat (RCB) 805 in the Persian Gulf. (File)
    © AP Photo / Torrey W. Lee/U.S. Navy
    A Navy P-8 Poseidon and an EP-3 Eries, carrying between them roughly 33 crew members, were flying a reconnaissance mission when they were asked by Iran to change course, Fox News reported.

    Three US defense officials, interviewed by the channel, said the jets had ignored the warning because they were in the international airspace 13 miles off the Iranian coast. Under UN rules, a state's territorial waters extend up to 12 nautical miles beyond the shore.

    "We wanted to test the Iranian reaction," one of the officials in the know about the incident said to Fox News. "It's one thing to tell someone to get off your lawn, but we weren't on their lawn. Anytime you threaten to shoot someone down, it's not considered professional."

    The defense official said Iran’s reaction was "unprofessional," while another one cited intelligence reports that indicated there were no missile launchers in the vicinity that were capable of downing a jet.

    The incident reportedly took place in the area covering the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman, close to the Persian Gulf.

    This is the latest in a series of recent altercations between the US and Iran. The Pentagon claims its ships have been intercepted by Iranian vessels on at least 31 separate occasions since January. Earlier this year, two US Navy patrol vessels drifted into Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf. Crewmembers were apprehended by the Revolutionary Guard in an incident that nearly sparked an international crisis in the midst of the Iran nuclear negotiations.


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