WASHINGTON, Jan 7: The United States said on Monday that five Iranian boats made “aggressive” moves and showed “hostile” intent towards three US Navy ships over the weekend in the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping route in the Gulf.

But Iran dismissed the incident, saying it was not unusual.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the three US ships had been in international waters passing through the Strait of Hormuz on Sunday when they were swarmed by five fast boats, some of which were ‘visibly armed’.

The United States warned Iran that it was ready to confront it wherever and whenever it felt the country was threatening its interests or those of its allies.

“We are going to confront Iran’s behaviour where it threatens us, where it threatens our allies, where it threatens the integrity of the international systems that have been set up to facilitate international commerce and finance,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told a briefing in Washington.

At a separate briefing, a Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman, described the incident as “reckless, dangerous, and potentially hostile” act while White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said such actions could lead to “dangerous” consequences in future.

The incident took place about 4 a.m. GMT on Sunday, or late Saturday night in Washington, US officials said.

“This is an ordinary occurrence which happens every now and then for both sides,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told IRNA news agency of the incident.

“When such incidents take place, the issue is resolved after both sides recognise each other,” Hosseini said.

The Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s elite ideological force, confirmed their naval forces were involved in the incident with US naval ships but said “nothing out of the ordinary” took place, the Fars news agency reported.

“Nothing out of the ordinary happened between Guards’ patrol forces and the US boats in the international waters in the Straits of Hormuz,” the agency quoted an informed source in the Guards’ naval force as saying.

“Revolutionary Guards naval vessels were patrolling the Straits of Hormuz and patrolling the incoming and outgoing vessels into the Persian Gulf,” the source added.

“Three American warships were entering regional waters and as usual they were identified and questioned.

“The American boats, just as in the past, introduced themselves and gave the (indentification) number of their boats and continued their way without any unusual occurrence.”

In October, the United States designated the Revolutionary Guards Corps a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction and its elite Al Quds force a supporter of terrorism.—Reuters

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