Israel Deploys Missile Boats as Iran Dispatches Fleet to Red Sea

Iran has dispatched a submarine and a warship to the Red Sea on a patrol mission, navy commander Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said in a report by state media on Tuesday.

"This flotilla which is comprised of a submarine and a warship will patrol the high seas and display the capabilities of the Islamic Republic of Iran," said Sayyari, quoted by the state television website.

Soon after Sayyari's declaration, the Israeli military said it had deployed two missile boats to the Red Sea.

"The navy has deployed two missile boats to the Red Sea as part of a routine exercise," a military spokeswoman told AFP, refusing to link the move with Iran's deployment.

In July, Iran announced intentions to boost its military presence in international waters, with plans to deploy warships to the Atlantic.

Sayyari said that the flotilla, the 15th mission of its kind to be dispatched to the Red Sea, would also focus on "fighting piracy".

In recent years, Iranian media have reported that both Iranian vessels and those of other nations have received Iranian naval escorts through the pirate-infested waters off Somalia.

In June, Iranian "Kilo" class submarines escorted warships to the Red Sea "to collect data," in their first mission in distant waters.

Iran's maritime forces consist mainly of small units equipped with missiles and operating under the control of the elite Revolutionary Guards in the Gulf.

Its ocean-going fleet is small, under the command of the navy and consists of half a dozen frigates and destroyers from 1,500 to 2,000 tons, along with three 3,000-tonne submarines bought from Russia in the 1990s.

In February, Iran moved two warships into the Mediterranean, crossing the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, triggering the anger of Israel and prompting the Jewish state to put its navy on alert.

Source: Agence France Presse

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