‘Shoot and Destroy,’ Trump Tells Navy, Ramping Up Tension With Iran

The explosive tweets came shortly after ‘Fox and Friends’ played footage of what appears to be an Iranian vessel harassing Navy sailors.

WASHINGTON (CN) — President Donald Trump fanned the flames of military conflict Wednesday, tweeting that the U.S. will not tolerate its vessels being pestered by Iran’s naval forces. 

“I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea,” the president tweeted this morning. 

One a week earlier, the Pentagon released a statement asserting that Iranian vessels had conducted “dangerous and harassing approaches against multiple U.S. naval ships operating in international waters.”

Trump followed up his explosive command Wednesday with several posts about the militant relationship between Iran and America, in one instance retweeting a message from the fake persona Heshmat Alavi, which is a creation of the Iranian political-militant group the People’s Mojahedin of Iran, according to reporting by The Intercept

The White House has previously used Alavi to support other administrative decisions, including its abandonment of the 2015 U.S.-Iran Nuclear Deal. When pressed for evidence of the administration’s claim that the deal had allowed Iran to increase its military size, the White House pointed to Alavi’s reporting on Iranian finances — one of such 61 articles in Forbes for which Alavi did not seek payment. 

The Alavi post that Trump retweeted today shows a small boat fitted with a machine gun, recording U.S. sailors aboard a Navy vessel in the Persian Gulf.

“Sleepy Joe thought this was OK. Not me!” the president tweeted. 

The posts followed a report this morning on “Fox & Friends” — a favorite program of Trump’s — that Iran had launched its first satellite into orbit Wednesday.

Fox had also discussed the allegations about Iranian vessels today. About 30 minutes before the president quoted Alavi on Twitter, “Fox & Friends” played the same video of the Iranian vessel on its program. 

The threat of military conflict between Iran and the U.S. has receded since January, when an American airstrike killed General Qassim Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force. Before that strike, Iran-backed militias in Afghanistan attacked a U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.  

In retaliation, Iran’s forces attacked U.S. soldiers stationed in Iran, which sent more than a hundred to urgent care facilities with traumatic brain injuries. More than 75% of those soldiers have returned to duty, and there have been no blows between the countries in months. 

Another post the president retweeted this morning came from the account “I Yam What I Am.” It shows the cartoon “How to Draw a Red Line,” which appeared in The Washington Post in 2017, showing a nebbish Obama scribbling messily with a marker beside a dramatic line drawn by a missile-wielding Trump.

Another exchange of firepower between Iran and America boiled just over a year ago when the U.S. downed an Iranian drone threatening a naval ship in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran denied was acting in a hostile manner. 

This July attack came one month after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down a U.S. drone over Tehran. American officials claimed the aircraft was over international airspace. 

A representative for the Department of Defense did not immediately return an email for comment Wednesday.

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