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'Unprofessional' of Iran to fly drone over US aircraft carrier

The US military has described a drone flyover which took place earlier this month in the Gulf as "abnormal and unprofessional." A spokesman says the drone was unarmed and didn't pose a significant risk to security.

In the latest incident to raise tensions between the two countries, Iranian state television reported on Friday that a surveillance drone had flown over the US aircraft carrier and had taken "precise" pictures of the vessel.

The channel broadcast a video of the encounter, which purported to show the drone being launched and then hovering over an unidentified aircraft carrier, briefly passing over a jet parked on the deck below.

The Iranian reports suggested the footage was from Friday. However, a US Navy spokeswoman would only confirm an incident on January 12, when an unarmed Iranian drone flew directly over the USS Harry S. Truman.

She could not confirm that it was the same incident reported by Iranian media.

"The UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) was unarmed and posed no risk to the carrier's flight operations," Lieutenant Commander Nicole Schwegman said in an e-mailed statement.

"While the Iranian UAV's actions posed no danger to the ship, it was, however, abnormal and unprofessional," she added.

Schwegman said that the drone had initially flown toward the French carrier Charles de Gaulle.

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Calm US response

Another US military official said the carrier wasn't conducting flight operations at the time of the overflight, which took place the same day Iran detained 10 US sailors who it said had entered Iranian territorial waters by mistake.

The USS Harry S. Truman is in the Gulf to conduct airstrikes against the "Islamic State" (IS) militant group.

Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, the head of Iran's navy, told state television the drone overflight was a sign of its "readiness and bravery."

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Analysts said the flyby was one of several incidents that have heightened tensions around control of waterways crucial to global oil supplies.

In addition to the detention of US Navy personnel, Iran conducted a rocket test last month, near coalition warships and commercial traffic.

mm/bw (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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