A US Navy vessel fired three live warning shots towards a boat carrying Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), after they ignored repeated warnings and approached to within 200 metres in the Persian Gulf. on Wednesday 24 August .

According to the US, the Iranian boat 'harassed' several vessels in international waters, including other US patrol boats and a Kuwaiti ship. When it came close to a US Navy boat, warning flares were fired and the US radioed through, reportedly to no response. Only when three shots were fired into the water did the Iranians leave the area.

The incident, reported by CNN, took place the day after four IRGC vessels conducted what was called an unsafe, unprofessional, high-speed intercept of the USS Nitze. The ship was again said to be in international waters and the Iranians only retreated after numerous warnings.

The recent incidents follow months of tensions in the region between Iran and the US. In December 2015, Iran fired a rocket close to the USS Harry Truman. 10 US sailors were briefly captured by IRGC in January (2016) and humiliated before being released.

Iran's defence minister, Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan, rejected the US version of events, saying the IRGC only acted defensively. Iranian forces "...warn any foreign vessel that enters the country's waters and take action if the intrusion is deemed aggressive" said Dehghan on Iranian state news media.

USS Nitze
Four Iranian vessels 'harassed' US warship USS Nitze (pictured) near Strait of Hormuz on 23 August, 2016, reportedly 'conducting a high-speed intercept' despite repeated warnings from the US vessel. Reuters