Caracas (TLS) – According to US Southern Command, the “peaceful” operation took place “in international waters, outside the territorial jurisdiction of Venezuela, 12 nautical miles (about 22 kilometers) from that country.

A US Navy ship sailed Tuesday off the coast of Venezuela, in what Southern Command called a “freedom of navigation operation” a day after an Iranian cargo ship docked at one of the ports of the South American country.

According to SouthCom, the “peaceful” operation took place “in international waters, outside the territorial jurisdiction of Venezuela, 12 nautical miles (about 22 kilometers) from that country.

“These freedoms are the basis of ongoing security efforts and are essential for regional peace and stability,” said Admiral Craig Faller, commander of Southern Command.

The US Navy “routinely conducts freedom of navigation operations around the world to preserve maritime navigation and guaranteed access rights to all nations and vital to the global mobility of US forces,” Southern Command explained.

However, the fact comes after the government of President Donald Trump announced last April the deployment of more military assets in the Caribbean, after accusing the Venezuelan government without proof of illegal drug trafficking-related movements, in its attempt, once again, to destabilize the Caribbean nation.

On the other hand, following the US’s increasingly harsh sanctions on the Venezuelan oil industry, the country’s legitimate president, Nicolas Maduro, turned to Iran for fuel last month.

This move did not please Washington, which at the time threatened to take action, although it did not mention any military action.

On Monday, an Iranian-flagged cargo ship Golsan docked at the port of La Guaira carrying what the Tehran embassy in Caracas said was food to supply the first Iranian supermarket in the South American nation.

First of 5 Iranian Fuel Ships Reach Venezuela, Defying US Threats and Sanctions

The ties of solidarity between both nations facing illegal sanctions by the US, and that in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic has raised several criticisms from the international community, represents a threat to Washington and its attempts to remove President Maduro from office.

Venezuela’s Defense Minister General Vladimir Padrino Lopez Wednesday denounced that the US Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Nitze (DDG 94) carried out operations 30 miles north of the Venezuelan coast.

Padrino Lopez mentioned that the US Southern Command Admiral Craig Faller called the destroyer’s entry into Venezuelan maritime space a “victory” and justified it as part of a “freedom of navigation operation, contesting an excessive maritime claim by Venezuela.”

The Bolivarian Minister rejected that description, noting that Faller’s statements show his ignorance of international maritime law.

“If you dare to carry out acts of law in the sea that corresponds to Venezuela, you will receive a response worthy of our patriots,” General Padrino Lopez emphasized and added that “that is stipulated by our Constitution and is the order of the Commander-in-Chief.”

“My embrace and appreciation to the National Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB) men and women who carry on their shoulders the victorious heritage of Carabobo. They have the historic task of preserving and defending the sovereignty of the Homeland under any circumstance. Long live the Bolivarian Army!”

Nevertheless, the Bolivarian general stressed that his nation’s current priorities are the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and the maintenance of peace.

In another example of action contrary to the international community’s norms, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Wednesday announced that the Trump administration established sanctions against five Iranian ship captains who delivered fuel in Venezuela.

“These captains’ assets will be blocked. Their careers and prospects will suffer from this designation,” Pompeo threatened.

This post originally ran on teleSUR and appears here with permission. Featured photo: (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Madysson Anne Ritter/Released)