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Iranian warship Alborz enters Red Sea amid tensions: State media

Iran’s Alborz warship has entered the Red Sea after passing through the Bab al-Mandab strait, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on Monday.

Since 2009, Iranian warships have been operating in open waters to “secure shipping lines, fight against pirates and conduct other missions,” Tasnim said.

This comes as Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis have been targeting vessels in the Red Sea for weeks, justifying their actions as support for Palestinians amid the ongoing war between the Gaza-based Palestinian militant group Hamas and Israel, which began on October 7.

The Houthi attacks pose a threat to a crucial transit route responsible for up to 12 percent of global trade. In response, the US established a multinational naval task force last month to safeguard shipping in the Red Sea.

On Sunday, US Navy helicopters sank three Houthi-operated vessels that had attacked a container ship in the Red Sea, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement.

Confirming the clash, the Houthis, who seized Yemen’s capital Sanaa in 2014 and control much of the country including its Red Sea coastline, acknowledged 10 fighters dead or missing.

Britain’s defense minister warned on Monday that London is “willing to take direct action” against the Houthis.

“We are willing to take direct action, and we won’t hesitate to take further action to deter threats to freedom of navigation in the Red Sea,” Defense Secretary Grant Shapps wrote in the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

According to the newspaper, Britain is collaborating with the US for potential military strikes against the Houthis, and that a joint statement giving the militants a final warning to cease their attacks is imminent.

British foreign minister David Cameron said on Sunday that he told his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian during a phone call that Tehran shares responsibility for preventing Houthi attacks in the Red Sea given its long-standing ties to the Yemeni group.

The USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier strike group will leave the eastern Mediterranean Sea more than two months after being sent to the region following Hamas’ attack on Israel in October, ABC News reported.

The carrier and other surface ships that form the strike group will head back to their home port of Norfolk, Virginia, in the “coming days as originally scheduled,” a senior US official and a US official told the outlet. The carrier group is returning to the US to prepare for future deployments.

The US will still have military capability in the region and flexibility to deploy additional cruisers and destroyers in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, the senior US official told ABC.

A Defense Department spokesman told ABC that they had nothing to announce today.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin directed the naval group to the region the day after Hamas attacked Israel on October 7.

The carrier was sent to the region to bolster regional deterrence, Austin said at the time, in an effort to prevent the conflict from widening into a wider regional one.

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