UK to deploy marines to Persian Gulf
LONDON — The United Kingdom will send elite forces to the Gulf of Oman to protect its warships amid rising tensions with Iran, according to The Sunday Times.
The planned deployment follows Thursday’s attacks on two oil tankers, which the U.S. has blamed on Iran. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Friday said the U.K. would make its own assessment, but believed the U.S. claim that Tehran was behind the incident.
One hundred Royal Marines are expected to be deployed “within weeks” to join naval ships operating from the U.K.’s new naval base in Bahrain, The Sunday Times reported, citing unnamed military sources.
The Marines will police the strait from helicopters and smaller boats, in a “force protection” mission that has been planned for several weeks due to rising tensions with Iran, according to the newspaper.
Yet the British defense ministry sought to downplay the move, telling The Sunday Times: “This is a pre-planned training deployment and is in no way related to the ongoing situation in the Gulf of Oman.”
Iran has denied any involvement in the oil tanker attacks, but the U.S. claims it has video evidence proving Iranian forces were responsible.