US warns Iran over ‘unsafe and unprofessional’ drone behavior in Gulf

The U.S. military on Wednesday warned Iran over an “unsafe and unprofessional” drone maneuver near an American aircraft carrier a day prior in the Central Arabian Gulf.

Washington accused Iran of flying an unmanned aircraft near the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group as it was conducting routine flight operations on Tuesday, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Vice Adm. Brad Cooper said in a statement.

The U.S. forces detected the drone, which it visually identified as Iranian, and claimed it came within 1,500 yards of the American vessels despite “multiple hails and warnings” which were ignored.

No injuries were reported and no aircraft was damaged, but Cooper said the Iranian action violated safety precautions outlined in a daily Notice to Airmen. The notice directs manned and unmanned aircraft to remain greater than 10 nautical miles from the aircraft carrier to ensure safe flights of military and civilian aircraft.

“This unsafe, unprofessional, and irresponsible behavior by Iran risks U.S. and partner nation lives and needs to cease immediately,” he added.

Warnings from the U.S. to Iran have jumped in the past month amid the war between Israel and Hamas, which began after the militant group attacked Israel on Oct. 7. Israel has responded by relentlessly bombing the Gaza Strip, killing more than 15,000 Palestinians, according to the territory’s health ministry.

The conflict has set off a spike in attacks against U.S. forces and assets in the region, strikes that Biden administration officials say are carried out by Iranian-backed militants.

President Biden last month sent a rare message to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, cautioning Tehran against attacks on U.S. troops.

“My warning to the ayatollah was that if they continue to move against those troops, we will respond, and he should be prepared. It has nothing to do with Israel,” Biden told reporters Oct. 25.

From Oct. 17 to Nov. 23 there were more than 70 attacks on U.S. forces. The near-daily drone and rocket strikes targeted American troops 36 times in Iraq and 37 times in Syria, injuring dozens of U.S. personnel who are in the countries to prevent a resurgence of Islamic State militants.

But there have been no attacks on American troops in Iraq and Syria since Nov. 24, when a four-day truce between Israel and Hamas mediated by Qatar went into effect.

Under the agreement, Hamas released hostages it had taken on Oct. 7 and Israel freed Palestinian prisoners.

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