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posted: 2/8/2014 4:55 PM

Iran says warships headed close to U.S. borders

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  • Ayatollah Ali Khamenei makes a speech to a group of air force members Saturday in Tehran, Iran.

      Ayatollah Ali Khamenei makes a speech to a group of air force members Saturday in Tehran, Iran.
    Associated Press/Iranian Supreme Leader's Office

 
Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iranian warships dispatched to the Atlantic Ocean will travel close to U.S. maritime borders for the first time, a senior Iranian naval commander said Saturday.

The commander of Iran's Northern Navy Fleet, Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad, said the vessels have already entered the Atlantic Ocean via waters near South Africa, the official IRNA news agency reported.

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The fleet, consisting of a destroyer and a helicopter-carrying supply ship, began its voyage last month from the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas. The ships, carrying some 30 navy academy cadets for training along with their regular crews, are on a three-month mission.

The voyage comes amid an ongoing push by Iran to demonstrate its ability to project power across the Middle East and beyond.

IRNA quoted Haddad as saying the fleet is approaching U.S. maritime borders for the first time. The Islamic Republic considers the move as a response to U.S. naval deployments near its own coastlines. The U.S. Navy's 5th fleet is based in Bahrain, just across the Persian Gulf.

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