US: We Believe Iran Is Preparing For Major Maneuvers In The Gulf In The Coming Days
BAGHDAD, The United States believes Iran is preparing for major maneuvers in the Gulf in the coming days to make the date of its annual training apparently earlier amid escalating tensions with Washington, the US Central Command said.
It said it had seen an increase in Iranian activities, including in the strategic Strait of Hormuz for oil shipments, which the Iranian Revolutionary Guards had threatened to close it.
"We are aware of the increase in naval operations in the Arabian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman," said Captain Bill Urban, spokesman for the Central Command, which oversees US forces in the Middle East.
He added "We are following the situation closely and will continue to work with our partners to ensure freedom of navigation and the flow of trade in international waterways.
"The Iranian Revolutionary Guard is apparently preparing more than 100 ships for training, and hundreds of ground troops may be involved," US officials said.
They said the exercises could start in the next 48 hours, but it was not clear when that would be.
US officials said the timing of the maneuvers was apparently aimed at delivering a message to Washington, which is intensifying economic and diplomatic pressure on Tehran but has so far failed to reach the point of using the US military to counter Iran and its proxies.
Senior Iranian officials have warned that the Islamic Republic would not yield easily to a new US campaign to ban Iranian oil exports.
Source: National Iraqi News Agency