Iran is preparing for major maneuvers in the Arabian Gulf in the coming days, US officials said.
The US military’s Central Command confirmed that it had seen an increase in Iranian activities, including in the strategic Strait of Hormuz; a major waterway for oil shipments which the Iranian Revolutionary Guards threatened to close.
“We are aware of the increase in maritime operations in the Arabian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman,” spokesman for the Central Command, which oversees US forces in the Middle East, Captain Bill Urban said.
Urban said: “We are aware of the increase in Iranian naval operations within the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman.”
“We are monitoring it closely, and will continue to work with our partners to ensure freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in international waterways,” he added.
Meanwhile, US officials, who asked not to be named, told Reuters that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are apparently preparing more than 100 ships to join the training which could possibly involve hundreds of ground troops.
They explained that the exercises could begin in the next 48 hours, but it was not clear when that would be.
“The timing of the maneuvers is apparently aimed at delivering a message to Washington, which is intensifying economic and diplomatic pressure on Tehran but has not so far reached the point of using the US military to counter Iran and its proxies,” the US officials said.