Trump instructed to ‘shoot down and destroy’ Iranian boats that harass US ships

Trump instructed to 'shoot down and destroy' Iranian boats that harass US ships
Trump instructed to 'shoot down and destroy' Iranian boats that harass US ships. Source: US Navy
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Daily US Times: Donald Trump has said that he instructed the United States Navy to “shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats” that harass US ships.

In a tweet posted on Wednesday, the President wrote: “I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.”

Senior Pentagon officials said later on Wednesday that the tweet was a lawful order though it did not mark a change in the rules of engagement.

“The President issued an important warning to the Iranians”, Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist said, ”What he was emphasizing is all of our ships retain the right of self-defense and people need to be very careful in their interactions to understand the inherent right of self-defense.”

Gen. John Hyten, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the military will “apply that clear direction from the commander in chief into lawful orders” adding that it is clear to Iran that there is a line they cannot cross that would provoke a response.

“We don’t need any more direction in order to do that”, he said. ”I think the President’s message was crystal clear and we don’t need any more actions.”

The tweet is the latest provocative threat Trump has put against Iran amid scrutiny and criticize of his handling of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in his home country and raises fears about the possibility of a miscalculation between the two longtime foes.

Tensions sharply escalated in January when the US killed Gen. Qasem Soleimani, Iran’s second most powerful official. Trump claimed earlier this month that his administration had information that “Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on US troops and/or assets in Iraq,” though he did not mention or provide any evidence.

He warned of a “heavy price” to pay if such acts were carried out.

In a briefing at the State Department, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also commented on the tweet.

He said the President has been clear to the State and Defense Departments to do everything we need to do to make sure that we protect and defend our military officers, diplomats around the world and officers to continue to ensure that they are secure and safe.”

US Navy released a video last week that shows naval vessels of Iran repeatedly conducting “dangerous and harassing approaches” toward US Navy warships in the North Arabian Sea.

US Navy claimed that one Iranian vessel came within 10 yards of colliding with a US ship.