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US to deploy troops on tankers to counter Iranian ship seizures

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The United States is set to deploy Marines and Navy personnel on board these vessels, according to a US official. This move comes as an additional layer of protection, supplementing the presence of warships and planes in the strategically vital area, where approximately 20% of the world’s oil passes through.

The deployment on private tankers requires an invitation, but preparations are underway, pending final agreements. The US official stated that the potential for confrontation with Iranian forces lies in Tehran’s actions. If Iran adheres to international law and refrains from attacking, there should be no interaction. However, the US will respond appropriately if its deployed forces come under attack.

Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder and National Security Council spokesman John Kirby declined to confirm the reports of the planned deployment.

Highlighting the importance of the area, Kirby emphasized that the Strait of Hormuz serves as a critical choke point for seaborne trade worldwide. The US has observed threats from Iran to impact this vital passage in the past.

To strengthen its presence in the region, the US announced last month that it would deploy a destroyer, F-35 and F-16 warplanes, and an Amphibious Readiness Group/Marine Expeditionary Unit with around 3,000 personnel.

Over the past two years, Iran has either seized or attempted to take control of nearly 20 internationally flagged ships in the region, as reported by the US military. Recent incidents include two thwarted attempts by Iran to seize commercial tankers in international waters off Oman on July 5. The following day, Iran took control of a commercial ship. Earlier incidents involved the seizure of two tankers in April and May, along with an alleged drone attack on an Israeli-owned tanker in November 2022.

These actions have occurred following the US’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the imposition of sanctions on Iran in 2018. The US accuses Iran of evading these sanctions, leading to heightened tensions in the region.

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