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The Iranian military has accused a U.S. spy plane of violating, or coming close to violating, its airspace on Sunday, claiming that the aircraft flew over Iranian territorial waters. According to a statement from the Iranian navy, it tracked the movements of "an American spy plane" that approached the country without authorization.
"After the U.S. Navy's EP-3E aircraft entered Iran's territorial waters, vigilant Navy commanders sent a warning to prevent the aircraft from entering the country's airspace without authorization," the statement said.
The aircraft allegedly entered Iranian airspace over the Gulf of Oman, with the Iranian state media claiming that its military chased the spy plane away. According to Navy commanders, the U.S. Navy's EP-3e returned to international airspace after the Iranian navy "sent a warning."
The Pentagon did not confirm the alleged incident or comment on the situation immediately or in the hours after the Iranian media reported on the claims.
The Pentagon's silence is likely due to mounting tensions in the gulf region following recent intercepts by the U.S. Navy of ships allegedly carrying 'illegal' weapons and fuel in the Gulf of Oman.
Alleged smuggling operations involving cargo from Iran headed to Yemen have also been intercepted by the UK military.
There is hope among many officials in the West that last month's China-brokered rapprochement and normalization of diplomatic relations between Tehran and Riyadh will bring stabilization to the gulf region. However, that rapprochement has made Israel uneasy, and it has attacked what Tel Aviv has called "Iranian targets" inside Syria 3 nights in a row since Thursday. The attacks mark a significant increase in Israeli aggression.