London: Amid escalating tension between the United States and Iran, the Royal Navy will send two warships to the Strait of Hormuz to ensure the safety of UK vessels and citizens and due to rising tensions in the Middle East in the wake of killing of a top Iranian military commander.
“I have instructed preparations for HMS Montrose and HMS Defender to return to accompanying duties of Red Ensign Shipping. The Government will take all necessary steps to protect our ships and citizens at this time, ” UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace tweeted.
Defence Secretary @BWallaceMP has announced that @RoyalNavy ships HMS Montrose and HMS Defender will resume accompaniments of UK-flagged commercial vessels in the Strait of Hormuz pic.twitter.com/Z4qXjnWMIA
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) January 4, 2020
After speaking to his US counterpart Mark Esper on Friday, Wallace said American forces have been “repeatedly attacked by Iranian-backed militia” in Iraq during “the last few months”.
“General Soleimani has been at the heart of the use of proxies to undermine neighbouring sovereign nations and target Iran’s enemies,” Wallace said.
“Under international law the United States is entitled to defend itself against those posing an imminent threat to their citizens.”
The tensions between UK and Iran had already rose last year when the latter seized two tankers- a Liberian-flagged one and a UK-flagged one- in the Strait of Hormuz. However the vessels were released but it contributed to already-heightened tensions in the region.
Iran has vowed to take revenge on the US after President Donald Trump ordered the airstrike to execute the country’s top general Qassem Soleimani.