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January 1, 2021 1:19 pm

Amid Fears of Escalation, Iran Puts Maritime Forces in Persian Gulf on Higher Alert: Report

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks a news conference, in Tehran, Iran, Aug. 5, 2019. Photo: Nazanin Tabatabaee / WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters.

Iranian maritime forces in the Persian Gulf have raised readiness levels in recent days, CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr tweeted Friday, citing a US official. “Not clear if moves are ‘defensive’ because expect US attack, or are signals Iran preparing for operations in the Gulf against the US, official said,” Starr added.

The New York Times also reported that US analysts had observed Iranian forces on higher alert, including in the Gulf. Two American B-52 bombers flew a mission there this week in a show of force to deter an Iranian attack, the third such mission in six weeks. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused the Trump administration of creating a “pretext for war” in a tweet on Thursday. “Iran doesn’t seek war but will OPENLY & DIRECTLY defend its people, security & vital interests,” he wrote.

An official from Iran’s delegation to the United Nations said that the “military adventurism” of the US in the region has “heightened” in recent weeks, in a letter to the president of the UN Security Council, according to Iran’s Fars News Agency.  

The heightened alert comes amid rising tensions in recent weeks between the United States and Iran, which is commemorating the Jan. 3, 2020 killing of General Qassem Soleimani, leader of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and another leader of an Iranian-backed militia in Iraq, by a US drone strike. 

An Israeli submarine was reportedly deployed toward the Persian Gulf several weeks ago, according to the Washington Post, the first time such a vessel had crossed the Suez Canal since 2009.

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