Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has unveiled vessels equipped with long-range missiles near the Strait of Hormuz at a time of heightened tensions with the US in the Gulf.

Wednesday’s announcement was made during an Iranian military exercise off the coast of Abu Musa island, where forces staged what they described as an “enemy attack” with rocket launchers, navy helicopters and drones.

It included missiles with a range of 600 kilometres, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported, but gave no further details on the weapons.

Abu Musa is one of three Iranian-occupied islands in the Arabian Gulf which also include Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb.

It is located close to the entrance of the strait, where Iran has angered Washington by seizing and harassing foreign vessels.

The UAE has repeatedly urged Iran to return the islands it had been illegally occupying for the past five decades.

Tehran reiterated its need to defend the islands, saying they “are part of Iran’s honour”, Tasnim quoted a navy commander as saying.

“The Gulf belongs to all of the region’s countries … These states must be very prudent and prevent themselves from falling into the conspiracies and divisive plans of extra-regional countries,” he said.

The US sent more warplanes and a guided missile destroyer last month in response to Iran’s increased activity in the strait.

Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh told reporters that the Department of Defence “is increasing our presence and ability to monitor the [Strait of Hormuz] and surrounding waters.”

About a fifth of the world’s crude oil and oil products passes through the strait, between Iran and Oman, making it the world’s most important oil chokepoint.

Iran attempted to seize two commercial tankers last month, which the UK Maritime Component Command, an arm of the British military, described as “unacceptable harassment.”

In May, Iran seized two tankers in a week and has been accused of holding a vessel as a “bargaining chip” in a payment dispute.

Tehran has seized at least five commercial vessels in the past two years and has harassed several others, the US Navy claimed.

Such operations are viewed as an effort to best the West following the reimposition of US sanctions and the collapse of the 2015 nuclear deal in 2018.

Source » msn