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Source: Reuters

Apr 2, 2023

DUBAI, April 2 (Reuters) - The Iranian navy said it identified and warned off a U.S. reconnaissance plane near the Gulf of Oman on Sunday, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

"After the warning, the plane was prevented from entering the country's skies without authorization," said the report, identifying the plane as a U.S. Navy EP-3E.

While the opening line of the Tasnim report said the aircraft had crossed into Iranian airspace, the same report also said the aircraft had not entered Iranian skies and had left after the warning.

The U.S. Defense Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Iran has had similar confrontations with U.S. forces in the past. In 2019, Iran shot down a U.S. drone which it said was flying over southern Iran.

On Dec. 31, Iran said its military had launched a drone to warn off a reconnaissance plane trying to approach Iranian war games on the Gulf coast, without identifying the aircraft.

The United States has long deployed weaponry and troops in the oil-producing Gulf to provide security to its allies.

Long-strained relations between Iran and the United States have deteriorated further in the last year, as talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal hit deadlock and after Tehran unleashed a deadly crackdown on protesters.

U.S. sanctions have also targeted suppliers of Iranian drones which Washington said have been used to target civilian infrastructure in Ukraine during the conflict with Russia.

Iran has previously acknowledged sending drones to Russia but said they were sent before the invasion. Moscow has denied its forces used Iranian drones in Ukraine.

Reporting by Dubai Newsroom; Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed in Washington, Editing by Tom Perry, David Goodman and Raissa Kasolowsky

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