Iran is set to deploy its 24th fleet of warships to the Mediterranean and the Red Sea in a show of strength, Iran's Press TV quoted Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari as saying on Wednesday.
“The Navy’s 24th fleet of warships will patrol the north of the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden, Bab-el-Mandeb, the Red Sea, Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea for three months and will even sail as far as southeastern Asian countries,” Sayyari said.
The deployment will show Iran's naval capabilities, Sayyari said, as well as demonstrating its ability to counter any threat against Iran's interests, adding that enhancing the Navy’s combat capabilities does not constitute a threat to any country in the region.
“We announce that we are able to provide security in the region with the help of all neighboring countries,” Press TV quoted the commander as saying.
On December 30, Mehr news agency reported that Iran's navy was conducting a five-day sea maneuver near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, issuing dozens of warnings to foreign planes and warships that approached its forces.
Mehr quoted Adm. Amir Rastgari, spokesman for the exercise, as saying that naval and air defense forces on 30 occasions warned off reconnaissance planes, drones and warships belonging to "extra-regional forces" that approached the drill, using a term that the Islamic Republic commonly employs to refer to the militaries of the U.S. and its allies.
The naval drill, dubbed "Velayat-91", was a show of strength in the face of mounting pressures over its disputed nuclear program, which the West suspects may be aimed at producing nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charges.
Iran has threatened to close the strait over Western sanctions but has not repeated the threats lately. The strait is the passageway for one-fifth of the world's oil supply.
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