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2 Jan, 2024 09:01

Iran deploys navy to Red Sea – state media

The development comes amid a US-led operation against Yemen’s Houthi militants, who have been attacking commercial ships recently
Iran deploys navy to Red Sea – state media

Iran’s Alborz destroyer crossed the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait and entered the Red Sea on Monday, the country’s state-run IRNA and Tasnim news agencies have reported. The deployment followed a deadly encounter between US warships and Yemen’s Houthi militants in the waterway on Sunday.

The Iran-affiliated Shiite group has controlled large swaths of Yemen, including the capital Sanaa and the port of Al-Hudaydah, since an internal conflict flared up back in 2014. In November, the Houthis began attacking commercial ships passing through the Red Sea, which they believe to be Israeli-owned or headed for Israel. The militants claim to be acting in solidarity with Hamas in Gaza.

According to IRNA’s report on Monday, the Alborz destroyer was deployed to the key waterway, which accounts for about 12% of all global trade, due to “heightening tensions.

On Saturday evening and Sunday morning, US destroyers, the USS Eisenhower and USS Gravely, responded to two consecutive distress calls by the Singapore-flagged container ship Maersk Hangzhou, which is owned and operated by Denmark. The second encounter saw several US helicopters open fire on four small boats manned by Houthis. Three were destroyed as a result, US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

A Houthi spokesperson, Yahya Saree, confirmed the incident, revealing that ten of the group’s militants had either been killed or gone missing.

The Pentagon estimated that 23 commercial ships have been attacked or seized by Houthis in the Red Sea since November 19.

The US Navy, along with warships from nine other nations, have been patrolling the key waterway since December 19 as part of the Operation Prosperity Guardian. The Houthis have denounced the deployment as an “integral part of the aggression against the Palestinian people, Gaza and the Arab and Islamic nation.

While Tehran has denied Washington’s allegations of its involvement in attacks, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian pointed to supposed double standards when talking to his British counterpart David Cameron on Sunday.

Israel can’t be allowed to massacre women and children and carry out a genocide in Gaza and set fire to the region, but consider stopping an Israeli ship in the Red Sea as endangering the security of this economic waterway,” the Iranian diplomat insisted.

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