Coast Guard Narrowly Avoids Sparking World War III

Coast Guard ships traverse the Persian Gulf in 2003. Coast Guard ships traverse the Persian Gulf in 2003. Defense Department file photo

The U.S. Coast Guard fired at an Iranian fishing boat in the Persian Gulf on Tuesday, nearly adding to a long list of global headaches for President Obama.

Fortunately, the incident ended quickly with nobody hurt, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, according to a CNN report.

The Iranian boat had pointed a weapon at the American crew, Kirby said, prompting a single shot from the Coast Guard vessel.

"I don't know whether the shot was just a warning shot, or it hit the dhow," Kirby said, according to CNN. "In any event, it pulled away and nobody was hurt."

Kirby said the Coast Guard was performing a "routine maritime mission" in the Gulf. 

According to a Department of Defense news agency report, "U.S. military rules of engagement state that unit commanders always have the inherent right and obligation to exercise unit self-defense in response to a hostile act or demonstrated hostile intent."

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