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Iran sends naval group to Bab el-Mandeb Strait

An undated picture shows the Iranian Navy’s 60th naval group on an international mission. (File, by Tasnim news agency)

Iran’s Navy has dispatched its 61st naval group, comprising a destroyer and a logistical vessel, on a mission to the Bab el-Mandeb Strait to ensure the security of the shipping routes used by Iranian vessels.

Rear Admiral Afshin Tashak, the commander of the Navy’s Southern Fleet, told IRNA on Sunday that the fleet was comprised of the Navy’s Sabalan destroyer and the Bandar Abbas logistical vessel and had set sail from the country’s southern port city of Bandar Abbas on Saturday.

“The naval group is on a mission to provide security for the routes used by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) in the area of the Gulf of Aden and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait,” he said.

The strait, which lies at the mouth of the Red Sea, connects it to the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. The vessels sailing through the strait and the body of water can next enter the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal.

Also on Saturday, the Navy’s 60th naval group consisting of two logistical vessels docked at the country’s southern port of Bushehr after completing a 5,600-nautical-mile mission.

‘6,000 tankers escorted’

Over the past decade, the Navy’s naval groups have escorted 6,000 oil tankers in international waters, the commander said.

The missions, he added, were undertaken in line with Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei’s remarks considering the Navy to be a strategic force and advising it to expand its operating range and to confront piracy.

The 61st such mission began less than two weeks after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in vague remarks that the regime’s navy could take action against Iranian oil shipments.

Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami reacted to Netanyahu’s remarks by saying that Iran viewed any Israeli naval action against the country’s oil shipments as “piracy,” vowing a “firm” response to such an assault.

Last November, Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran, had also warned global shipping and insurance industries that insuring Iranian tankers would incur penalties under Washington’s unilateral sanctions against Tehran.

In late October last year, a few days before the US was about to bring Iran’s energy sector under sanctions, President Hassan Rouhani assured the Iranian nation of the government’s resolve to stand up to US threats. He emphasized that his team would do all in its power to resolve the economic problems caused by American pressure.

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