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US sends destroyer, F-35s to bolster Persian Gulf defenses against Iran

An F-35 Lightning fighter jet. (Ezra Acayan/Getty Images/TNS)

The U.S. is deploying a destroyer and fighter aircraft including F-35s to the Persian Gulf in response to Iranian seizures and harassment in and around the Strait of Hormuz, Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said Monday.

The decision to send more military muscle — including the added destroyer, the USS Thomas Hudner — comes after several recent encounters between U.S. and Iranian vessels.

In one incident this month, a U.S. destroyer chased away two ships from the Iranian Navy in the Gulf of Oman that were trying to seize two oil tankers, the Associated Press reported.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighters will join F-16 fighter planes and A-10 close-air support aircraft that have been patrolling in the area. The U.S. is “increasing our presence and ability to monitor” the Strait of Hormuz and “surrounding waters,” Singh told reporters.

Relations between the U.S. and Iran have been tense since the effective collapse in 2018 of an agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program. After a ship seizure in March, the two countries held indirect talks on prisoner swaps and the release of Iranian funds frozen abroad due to sanctions.

Briefing reporters on Monday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Iran has become “more bellicose, more active and more dangerous to peaceful maritime shipping in the Gulf region.”

Kirby said that “the secretary of defense wants to make sure, as he should, that we’ve got the proper capabilities and assets and readiness in place to deal with it.”


© 2023 Bloomberg News

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