Iran has sent two warships to the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Yemen, where the United States conducted missile attacks. The announcement came after the U.S. military launched cruise-missile strikes to knock out radar sites in Yemen controlled by Iran-allied Huthi forces, after failed missile attacks this week on a U.S. Navy destroyer.
Iranian warships Alvand (file photo)
"Iran's Alvand and Bushehr warships have been dispatched to the Gulf of Aden to protect trade vessels from piracy," the semiofficial Tasnim news agency reported on October 13.
But Tasnim said the two Iranian destroyers were dispatched on October 5 and it was not in response to U.S. actions in Yemen.
Tasnim said the Iranian warships will patrol the Gulf of Aden, south of Yemen, which is one of the world's most important shipping routes.
The strikes on October 13, authorized by U.S. President Barack Obama, were Washington's first direct military action against Huthi targets in the Yemen civil war, although the United States has provided logistical support to the Saudi-led coalition battling the rebels.
The Pentagon stressed that the strikes were defensive and aimed at radar that enabled the launch of three missiles this week against the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Mason.
"These limited self-defense strikes were conducted to protect our personnel, our ships, and our freedom of navigation," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said.
"The United States will respond to any further threat to our ships and commercial traffic, as appropriate."
Huthi rebels deny they have targeted any warships.
A Saudi-led coalition is carrying out an air campaign against the Huthi rebels.
U.S. support for the coalition has come under strain following an air strike on a funeral in Sanaa last weekend that killed 140 people.
Iran's key regional rival, Saudi Arabia, accuses Tehran of providing support to the Huthis, a charge Tehran denies.
With reporting by AFP and Reuters
Top U.S. officials are charging that Iran supplied Yemeni rebels with the missiles that were aimed at a U.S. Navy warship in several attacks this week.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, who was briefed by the Pentagon on the three failed missile attacks on the USS Mason destroyer, said on October 13 that Iran likely provided the missiles.
McCain endorsed the Pentagon's move to retaliate by launching cruise missiles that destroyed mobile radar sites used by the Huthis to launch their missiles, which were believed to be C-802 antiship weapons.
"The United States Navy has delivered a strong message" that it won't tolerate such aggression, McCain said.
U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby also said this week that the missiles were "provided by Iran to the Huthi rebels," although he said it was also possible the Huthis captured some missiles from the Yemeni government army.
Iran has been openly allied with the Shi'ite Huthis, but denies arming them. Still, Iran sent two warships to the gulf off the coast of Yemen after the United States struck back at the Huthi radar sites.
Iran said the move was to "protect trade vessels from piracy."
Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters
Copyright (c) 2016 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
- FROM THE START of the hideous Saudi bombing campaign against Yemen 18 months ago, two countries have played active, vital roles in enabling the carnage: the U.S. and U.K. The atrocities committed by the Saudis would have been impossible without their steadfast, aggressive support. -Glen Greenwald, The Intercept
FRAGMENTS OF WHAT APPEAR to be U.S.-made bombs have been found at the scene of one of the most horrific civilian massacres of Saudi Arabia's 18-month air campaign in Yemen. Aircraft from the Saudi-led coalition on Saturday bombed a community hall in Sana'a, Yemen's capital city, where thousands of people had gathered for a funeral for Sheikh Ali al-Rawishan, the father of the rebel-appointed interior minister. The aircraft struck the hall four times, killing more than 140 people and wounding 525. One local health official described the aftermath as "a lake of blood." -Alex Emmons, The Intercept
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