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A Facebook video presented as "breaking" news about a U.S. Navy destroyer firing at an Iranian ship in the Persian Gulf is not new. The USS Mahan fired a warning flare when a boat got too close to it in April 2017.
A Facebook video claimed that a U.S. Navy destroyer recently fired at an armed Iranian ship. But the post misleadingly represented a 6-year-old story as breaking news.
"Breaking: Armed Iranian ship just met a US destroyer, look what we just fired at it," read the caption on a May 25 Facebook post, echoing the headline of a video it shared.
U.S. encounters with Iranian boats in the Persian Gulf are not uncommon — earlier this month, the U.S. Navy said it has increased patrols in the nearby Strait of Hormuz in response to merchant ship seizures.
But we could find no recent news reports or announcements of a U.S. destroyer firing at an Iranian ship, so the "breaking" designation signaled something amiss.
A closer look at the post revealed another clue: The video’s thumbnail shows a photo of Jim Mattis, who was defense secretary under former President Donald Trump. Mattis resigned in December 2018.
The video is from the Next News Network, a conservative YouTube channel. It was posted there on April 26, 2017.
The video describes a real event. The USS Mahan, a Navy guided-missile destroyer, fired a warning flare toward an Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel that had gotten within about 1,000 yards, according to several news reports published April 26, 2017. The Mahan was forced to change course, CNN reported.
The account that posted the video and framed it as recent news often shares older videos as current events from the Next News Network, a site the Chicago Tribune reported promotes conspiracies; it was recently demonetized by YouTube.
The claim that a U.S. Navy destroyer recently fired at an armed Iranian ship is False.
Facebook post, May 25, 2023
The Next News Network, "Breaking: Armed Iranian ship just met a US destroyer, look what we just fired at it," April 26, 2017
USA Today, "U.S. Navy fires warning flare at Iran vessel in Persian Gulf," April 26, 2017
The Guardian, "US navy ship fires warning flare at Iranian vessel in Persian Gulf," April 26, 2017
CNN, "US destroyer forced to alter course by Iranian vessel acting ‘provocative’," April 26, 2017
USNI News, "U.S. 5th Fleet Increasing Patrols in Strait of Hormuz in Response to Iranian Seizures, May 12, 2023
The Washington Post, "Mattis resigns after clash with Trump over troop withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan," Dec. 20, 2018
The New York Times, "U.S. Navy Steps Up Efforts to Curb Iran’s Ship Seizures in Strait of Hormuz," May 23, 2023
Newsweek, "Next News Network Founder Cries on Air as Conservative Channel Demonetized," Feb. 27, 2023
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