An Iranian warship operating in the Gulf of Aden aimed a weapon at a U.S. military helicopter two weeks ago, Department of Defense officials confirmed Wednesday. The helicopter had just finished landing on a coalition ship’s deck that was positioned just a few hundred feet from the Iranian warship when an on-deck machine-gun was pointed in its direction.
U.S. Navy officials took pictures of the scene, but have not released them to the public, and have also declined to name the country that the coalition warship belongs to. The weapon is believed to have been a standard on-deck machine gun, according to a CNN report, which also noted that there was also a cameraman behind the person operating the weapon.
"Were they just trying to get cool pictures pointing at us? Were they making a propaganda film? Was some guy taking pictures to send to his girlfriend? We don't know," a Department of Defense official said.
The news comes a little more than three months since the Iranian revolutionary guard seized a commercial cargo ship passing through the Strait of Hormuz. U.S. ships later agreed to accompany U.S.-flagged ships through region to ensure their safety.
While that particular region is widely acknowledged to be safe, the Gulf of Aden, which lies between the war-torn nation of Yemen in the north and the politically unstable Somalia to the south, is known for being a hostile environment where piracy and terrorism is rife. Adding to that regional instability is Iran’s involvement in Yemen and Tehran’s deal with the U.S. to curtail its nuclear bomb-making capabilities in exchange for sanctions relief.
In an attempt to ensure that the nuclear deal passes through Congress, U.S president Barack Obama gave a speech Wednesday where he said, "By killing this deal Congress would not only pave Iran's pathway to a bomb, it would accelerate it.”
Congressional leaders have 60 days to decide if they will pass the Iran nuclear deal.