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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

US sending Navy destroyer, more warplanes to Middle East amid Iran tensions

Pentagon 'increasing our presence, ability to monitor' Strait of Hormuz, says spokesperson

The US is sending a guided missile destroyer and additional warplanes to the Middle East, the Pentagon said Monday amid rising tensions with Iran.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin authorized the deployment of the USS Thomas Hudner, F-35 and F-16 fighter jets “to defend US interests and safeguard freedom of navigation,” Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh told reporters.

Read more: US sends more fighter jets to Middle East

Singh cited a July 5 incident in which she said the Iranian navy attempted to seize two merchant vessels in the Strait of Hormuz as part of the motivation behind the decision.

“In light of this continued threat and in coordination with our partners and allies, the department is increasing our presence and ability to monitor the Strait and surrounding waters,” she said.

“We call upon Iran to immediately cease these destabilizing actions that threaten the free flow of commerce through this strategic waterway, of which the world depends on for more than one-fifth of the world’s oil supply,” she added.

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The exact location of the deployment was not immediately available, but Singh said that some of the military equipment is already in transit.

The US Naval Forces Command said the Thomas Hudner arrived in the region July 14 after transiting through Egypt’s Suez Canal.

The decision to send the additional military assets came after the Pentagon last month deployed additional F-22 jets to the region amid what it called “unprofessional” maneuvering by Russian fighter planes in the skies over Syria.