Amid mounting tensions with Iran, the US sent 1,000 additional troops to the region after oil tankers were attacked.
By Morgan Hekking
The announcement came Monday, June 17, five days after two oil tankers were attacked near the Strait of Hormuz, a vital passageway for maritime oil trade. The incident has caused an increase in oil prices by more than three percent.
The tankers, stationed in the Gulf of Oman, were Norwegian-owned Front Altair and Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous. Crew members from both ships were rescued by Iranian search and rescue teams, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). The US Navy also assisted the tankers.
Washington, D.C. and Riyadh have accused Tehran of facilitating the attacks, which came amid increasing tensions between the US and Iran. The Pentagon released photos supposedly connecting Iran to the attacks on Monday.
According to Shanahan, who released a statement on Monday, June 17, the attacks “validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and their interests across the region.”
Shanahan framed the deployment of American troops to the Middle East as a preemptive measure, stating that the defensive move will “ensure the safety and welfare of our military personnel working throughout the region and . . . protect our national interests.” Troop levels will be adjusted accordingly as the US military continues to monitor the situation.
Iran has denied its alleged involvement in the explosions aboard the oil tankers. The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, has urged US forces to leave the region, claiming that Tehran is responsible for security in the Gulf.
Four other tankers were attacked in May, prompting the US to increase their troops in the region to 1,500. The latest developments in the Gulf of Oman will place approximately 2,500 US troops in the region.