The United States on Wednesday condemned an Iranian drone flight near the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier the previous day as “unsafe” and “unprofessional.”
The Eisenhower is the centerpiece of one of two carrier strike groups deployed as part of US efforts to deter Iran and its proxy forces in the Middle East from escalating the Israel-Hamas war into a broader regional conflict.
The Iranian drone flew as close as 1,500 yards (meters) to the Eisenhower on Tuesday as the carrier conducted flight operations in the Gulf, ignoring “multiple hails and warnings” and violating a “Notice to Airmen” instructing aircraft to remain more than 10 nautical miles (18.5 kilometers) away, Vice Admiral Brad Cooper said in a statement.
“This unsafe, unprofessional, and irresponsible behavior by Iran risks US and partner nation lives and needs to cease immediately,” said Cooper, who commands American naval forces in the Middle East.
“US naval forces remain vigilant and will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows while promoting regional maritime security,” he added.
On October 7, Palestinian militant group Hamas carried out a shock cross-border attack from Gaza that Israeli officials say killed about 1,200 people.
Israel responded with a relentless land and air campaign on Hamas-controlled Gaza that the group’s officials say has killed nearly 15,000 people.
Those deaths have provoked widespread anger in the Middle East and provided an impetus for attacks against American troops in the region by armed groups opposed to their presence and to Washington’s backing for Israel.
American forces in Iraq and Syria have repeatedly been targeted with drone and rocket attacks in recent weeks that have injured dozens of US personnel.
Washington has blamed the violence on Iran-backed forces and responded with air strikes on multiple occasions.
But a truce between Israel and Hamas appears to have led to a lull in the attacks, with the Pentagon saying Tuesday that there had been none since it began on November 24.