Iran says it flew drone over US aircraft carrier, took 'precise' photos

TEHRAN:- Iran flew a surveillance drone over a US aircraft carrier and took "precise'' photographs of it as part of an ongoing naval drill, state television reported on Friday. An American official declined to comment on the claim.

The reported drone over flight comes after a series of naval incidents between Iran and the US in the greater Persian Gulf, including test rocket fire by the Islamic Republic and its brief capture of American sailors who strayed into its territorial waters.

The brief report by state television did not say what day the drone flight occurred, nor did it show any of the images of the aircraft carrier reportedly photographed by the drone. A story from the state-run IRNA news agency said an Iranian light submarine closely participated in the surveillance operation.

Separately, state television said Iran's navy successfully fired surface-to-surface Noor cruise missiles during the drill.

The Iranian report did not name the US vessel targeted. The nuclear-powered USS Harry S Truman, based out of Norfolk, Virginia, is in the Persian Gulf region launching airstrikes and supporting operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

Cmdr. Kevin Stephens, a spokesman for the US Navy's 5th Fleet based in Bahrain, declined to comment on the Iranian report.

"I can say that we are confident in the ability of U.S. naval forces operating in the region to respond appropriately as the situation dictates, and will exercise our right to defend our forces against any threat,'' Stephens said.

Iran has announced other military exercises in the past to demonstrate the capabilities of its armed forces.

Iran's navy began a naval drill this week over a 3-million-square-kilometer area including parts of the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean. Iran said Wednesday its navy warned a US warship to leave an area of the naval drill. The US Navy later denied its operations were affected by the Iranian drill.

While Iran recently struck a nuclear deal with world powers including the US, its naval forces have continued its maneuvers. Iran has more than 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) of shoreline facing the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman.

The US has criticized some of those maneuvers, including what it called a "highly provocative'' Iranian rocket test fire in December near its warships and commercial traffic passing through the Strait of Hormuz. Iran denied launching rockets, though the US later released footage showing the rocket fire.

The Strait of Hormuz, which sees nearly a third of all oil traded by sea pass through it, has been the scene of past confrontations between America and Iran, including a one-day naval battle in 

In January, Iranian forces captured 10 US Navy sailors who entered Iranian territorial waters near Farsi Island, an outpost in the middle of the Persian Gulf that has been used as a base for Revolutionary Guard speedboats since the 1980s. The sailors were released within a day, though Iranian state media aired footage of the sailors' capture, angering US politicians.

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