Friday, June 21, 2024

Pentagon says will send F-35s, F-16s, warship to Persian Gulf

The US military will send a Navy destroyer along with F-16 and F-35 fighter jets to the Persian Gulf region after “a number of recent alarming events in the Strait of Hormuz” caused by Iran, said a Pentagon spokesperson. Tehran says Iranian naval forces have so far seized 35 ships for violating maritime laws in the waters off the Persian Gulf.

“In response to a number of recent alarming events in the Strait of Hormuz, [Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin] has ordered the deployment of the destroyer USS Thomas Hudner, F-35 fighters and F-16 fighters to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to defend US interests and safeguard freedom of navigation in the region,” Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters on Monday.

Singh said the additional assets were meant to help with Iran’s continuing efforts to “engage in destabilizing activity.”

“In light of this continued threat and in coordination with our partners and allies, the [Defense Department] is increasing our presence and ability to monitor the strait and surrounding waters,” Singh continued.

She also added the Pentagon calls upon Iran “to immediately cease these antagonizing actions that threaten the free flow of commerce.”

Iran has repeatedly condemned the US for “warmongering” and escalating tensions with its regular military deployments in the region.

Singh could not say how long the deployment would last, as Austin and his commanders “are always assessing how long assets would be needed in the region.”

She added that the aircraft were enroute but would not say where the aircraft were being flown from.

In recent months, Iranian naval forces have impounded several ships off the country’s southern coast for their breaches of shipping safety law, with the US claiming that the moves are “illegal” and “endanger” shipping safety.

Tehran dismisses the claims as baseless, stressing the vessel seizures are in fact meant to consolidate the maritime law.

Iran says the US is the primary source of insecurity in West Asia and Washington remains responsible for the instability in the region as long as its wrong and crisis-making policies are not rectified. Tehran has repeatedly stressed that the responsibility to ensure the Persian Gulf security and stability lies with the regional states without a need for foreign naval forces.

On Monday, Iran urged the United States to refrain from any “provocative” moves in the region, especially close to the country’s borders, stressing that Tehran reserves the right to take “deterrent measures” under international law.

Speaking during a weekly press conference, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said that the US government’s role regarding the issue of regional security has never been peaceful and constructive.

“Iran monitors with sensitivity and accuracy any illegal and unconstructive act that affects the security of the region, and it will … pay special attention to any provocative and illegal moves, especially near its borders,” he added.

Kanaani also warned that the Islamic Republic will use its “inalienable rights” in response to the US moves.

Iran “reserves the right to take due deterrent measures under international law, rules and regulations given the capability of its Armed Forces in protecting the security of borders, as well as that of navigation and aviation in the Persian Gulf region,” he stressed.

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