Trump on Twitter tells US Navy to 'shoot down and destroy' Iranian boats that harass US ships
Posted April 22, 2020 8:55 a.m. EDT
CNN — President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that he has instructed the US Navy to "shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats" that harass US ships.
"I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea," Trump wrote.
It's unclear if Trump's tweet amounts to a standing order, and whether Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East, would fire upon an Iranian boat. CNN has reached out to the Pentagon and White House for additional comment.
CNN reported last week that the US Navy released video that it says shows Iranian naval vessels repeatedly conducting "dangerous and harassing approaches" toward US Navy warships in the North Arabian Sea and claimed that one Iranian vessel came within 10 yards of colliding with a US ship.
The video of the incident appears to show multiple Iranian-flagged vessels, with men manning guns at the front of those ships, passing in front of a US naval vessel. The guns do not appear to be pointed at the ship, which sounded a horn multiple times as the Iranian vessels approached.
Trump has repeatedly taken a hardline stance against Iran and issued bellicose threats against the longtime US foe. Tensions between the two countries sharply escalated in January when the US killed Iran's second most powerful official, Gen. Qasem Soleimani, and earlier this month, Trump, without citing any evidence, claimed that his administration had information that "Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on US troops and/or assets in Iraq." He warned of a "heavy price" to pay if such acts were carried out.
This story is breaking and will be updated.