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Iran flew surveillance drone over U.S. aircraft carrier in Persian Gulf, state TV says

It's unclear whether the reported flyover is the same incident reported by the U.S. Navy on Jan. 12, which involved American and French aircraft carriers.
By Doug G. Ware   |   Jan. 29, 2016 at 4:41 PM
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TEHRAN, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- The Iranian government flew a surveillance drone over a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier as part of a drill this month and took video photography of the ship during flight, state television reported Friday.

The report said the drone's flyover, as well as a submarine deployment in nearby waters, occurred on the third day of Iranian naval exercises. The incident was reported by Iran's semi-official Fars news agency.

"The Iranian submarine managed to take clear pictures of the aircraft carrier without catching the attention of the staff on board," the news agency report said.

Navy spokesman Cmdr. Kevin Stephens has said an Iranian drone flew near a French aircraft carrier and over the USS Harry S. Truman in the Persian Gulf on Jan. 12. Both the French and American carriers were in international waters to launch aircraft strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq.

The Navy, aware of the drone's presence, dispatched a helicopter from the Truman to determine whether the drone was armed. It was not, and U.S. commanders determined that it posed no threat.

Stephens called the maneuver "unprofessional" and "abnormal," USA Today reported.

However, it wasn't known whether the incident involved with the Truman is the same one mentioned in the Fars report.

Another Navy spokesman, Cmdr. William Marks, said he could not confirm the authenticity of the purported video, The Washington Post reported Friday.

Iran's navy commander, though, called the flyover a "sign of bravery" and that it "allowed our men to go so close to the warship and shoot such a beautiful and accurate footage of the combat units of the foreign forces."

The Iranian naval forces had been conducting several drills this month, officials said, during which Tehran also reportedly tested a Noor cruise missile.

The flyover, if confirmed, presents yet another incident in the gulf between Iranian and U.S. military forces. On Jan. 12, 10 American sailors were briefly detained by Revolutionary Guards after a mechanical problem caused a patrol boat to drift too far into the gulf and enter Iranian territorial waters.

Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama imposed sanctions against 11 people involved with Tehran's ballistic missile program for violations -- just one day after the U.S. government lifted other sanctions in accordance with a nuclear accord reached last July.

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