Iran's Revolutionary Guard 'shoots drone footage' of US warships

Video released by Tasnim news agency shows fighter jets parked on American carrier deck in the Gulf.

    Iran's Revolutionary Guard 'shoots drone footage' of US warships
    US Navy says USS Dwight D Eisenhower hasn't been in the Gulf since 2016 [Video screen grab/Tasnim news agency]

    Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) successfully managed a surveillance flight over an United States aircraft carrier, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on Saturday.

    The report included footage apparently from a drone that flew over the USS Dwight D Eisenhower and another US warship in the Gulf. The images show fighter aircraft parked on the carrier deck.

    Tasnim did not say when the footage was shot.

    The development comes after the US government earlier this month designated the IRGC as a "terrorist organisation" - an unprecedented step that drew condemnation from Iran.

    Tehran immediately announced retaliatory measures, declaring the United States a "state sponsor of terrorism" and US forces in the region "terrorist groups", state media reported.

    190407160100794

    The drone that took the footage is an Ababil-3 with an eight-hour flight capability at 3,658 metres and a 250-kilometre range.

    Lieutenant Chloe J Morgan, a US Naval Forces Central Command spokeswoman, told The Associated Press the Eisenhower has not been in the Gulf since 2016. She said the US and its allies are committed to freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz.

    The strait, which sees nearly one-third of all oil traded by sea pass through it, has been the scene of past confrontations between the US and Iran, including a one-day naval battle in 1988.

    Crucial waterway

    In recent years, the US Navy has accused Iranian patrol boats of harassing American warships in the waterway.

    The Trump administration said on Monday it will no longer exempt any countries from US sanctions if they continue to buy Iranian oil, stepping up pressure on Iran in a move that primarily affects the five remaining major importers: China and India and US treaty allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey.

    The move is part of the administration's "maximum pressure" campaign on Iran that aims to eliminate all of its revenue from oil exports, which the US says are used to destabilise the region.

    Iran reiterated its long-running threat to close the Strait of Hormuz if it's prevented from using the crucial waterway in the Gulf to trade oil.

    In 2016, Iran's navy similarly took video footage of the nuclear-powered carrier USS Harry Truman, based in Norfolk, Virginia, while it was in the Gulf launching air raids and supporting operations against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) in Iraq and Syria.

    SOURCE: AP news agency