Iranian Revolutionary Guard members drive a speedboat in front of an oil tanker. Photo: AFP/Atta Kenare

A US defense official says Iranian drones have stepped up their surveillance of US warships in the Persian Gulf and other key Middle East waterways.

The official told USNI News that Iranian drones are conducting regular flights to monitor US Navy ships crossing the Strait of Hormuz.

The disclosure follows US media reports that small Iranian fast boats that were allegedly harassing American ships in the Gulf have stopped such activities since August. This contrasts with what the US Navy says was a previous 20-month period of growing tension as the Iranians “buzzed” US ships about twice per month.

The end of such “harassment” was hailed by some US publications as a sign that Tehran was backing down in the face of a get-tough with Iran policy by US President Donald Trump.

The Pentagon official told USNI News that Iranian QOM-1 drones – also known as the Shaheed 129, and capable of carrying weapons – have been conducting “one to two maritime flights per day” over the Strait of Hormuz and the Southern Arabian Gulf in recent months. Those flights “often approach US Navy ships operating in the region,” the official was quoted as saying.

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