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Iran sends warships to Yemen amid heightened US-Houthi tensions Open in fullscreen

The New Arab & agencies

Iran sends warships to Yemen amid heightened US-Houthi tensions

Two Iranian destroyers were dispatched, could one be the domestically made destroyer Jamaran? [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 October, 2016

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Iranian state media announces the deployment of naval units as the US launches its first direct attack on Houthi targets in Yemen.
Iran has sent two warships to the Gulf of Aden off Yemen's coast to protect commercial vessels, Iranian media said on Thursday. 

The news comes at a time of mounting hostility between the United States and Yemen's Houthi rebels, who are thought to have fired rockets at US navy ships on two occasions in the last week.

The announcement came as Washington said it had destroyed radar sites controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, in response to the two failed missile attacks on its warships in the Red Sea.

However, the two Iranian destroyers were dispatched on October 5, before the incidents involving the US, the Tasnim news agency reported.

Their mission takes them to the Gulf of Aden and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait between Yemen and the Horn of Africa "to protect merchant vessels against pirates", before heading on to Tanzania and possibly South Africa, Tasnim said.

It was not clear if the destroyers had already arrived in the Gulf of Aden.

The US cruise missile strikes on Thursday were Washington's first direct action against the Houthi rebels, although it has provided logistical support to the Saudi-led coalition battling the insurgents.

The USS Mason, a destroyer, was targeted on Wednesday by a missile fired from rebel-held territory which crashed into the ocean before reaching its target. The Mason and the USS Ponce, an amphibious staging base, had already been targeted on Sunday by two missiles that also fell short.

Iran supports the Houthis, however denies supplying arms and has fiercely criticised the bombing campaign led by Saudi Arabia.

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