US deploying F-35s to Persian Gulf despite stern warning from Iran
The US Defense Department says it plans to send additional fighter jets and naval assets to the Persian Gulf region to increase American military presence in the region, despite Iran’s stern warning.
Addressing a briefing on Monday, Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh claimed the deployment would be an effort to counter Iran, citing a number of “alarming” events in the Strait of Hormuz earlier this month.
On July 10, an Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) commander announced that the US made “unprofessional and risky” attempts to impede the seizure of a foreign oil tanker smuggling Iranian fuel in the Persian Gulf last week, but the IRGC successfully confiscated the vessel.
According to IRGC’s Rear Admiral Ramazan Zir-Rahi, the vessel carrying contraband fuel had arranged military backing from US military forces in the area but was still seized by Iran’s naval forces.
He further elaborated that the US Navy attempted to intervene as IRGC naval forces moved in to intercept the oil tanker involved in smuggling one million liters of Iranian oil and gas.
Singh, however, alleged that Iran is conducting destabilizing activities that “threaten the free flow of commerce” through the strategic Strait of Hormuz “of which the world depends on for more than one-fifth of the world’s oil supply.”
“The Secretary of Defense has ordered the deployment of the destroyer USS Thomas Hudner, F-35 fighters and F-16 fighters to … defend US interests and safeguard freedom of navigation in the region,” she told reporters.
She did not give details about the date the fighter jets and guided-missile destroyer would be sent to the region, or how long the new deployment would last but emphasized that the move would help to monitor and secure “vital waterways.”
On Friday, an unnamed senior American defense official also said the US will send F-16 fighter jets to the Persian Gulf region this weekend in a bid to “protect ships” from “Iranian seizures.”
The official claimed that the F-16s will give air cover to the ships moving through the strategic Strait of Hormuz and increase the US military’s visibility in the area, the Associated Press reported.
Iran says it views US military vessels lurking in the waters of the Persian Gulf as a threat to its security and a source of tensions and instability in the region.