- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 22, 2020

President Trump on Wednesday said he has authorized the U.S. Navy to “shoot down and destroy” Iranian gunboats if they harass American ships at sea.

His announcement comes one week after nearly a dozen of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps navy boats made several “dangerous and harassing approaches” to U.S. warships conducting joint operations with Army attack helicopters in international waters, U.S. military officials said.

“I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea,” Mr. Trump tweeted.

The IRGC navy boats repeatedly crossed in front of and behind the U.S. ships at close range and at high speed. One of the Iranian boats came within 10 yards of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Maui, military officials said last week.

On Monday, the IRGC acknowledged the close encounter with the U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf, The Associated Press reported.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have skyrocketed in recent months after the U.S. killed a top Iranian military commander, which led Iran to launch a missile strike on a U.S. military base in Iraq.

SEE ALSO: Iran’s Guard says it launched satellite amid U.S. tensions

• Lauren Toms can be reached at lmeier@washingtontimes.com.

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