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US warships ready to intercept Iranian vessels: reports

US warships ready to intercept Iranian vessels: reports

WASHINGTON: US warships were ready to help intercept a convoy of Iranian ships suspected of carrying weapons to Houthi rebel forces in Yemen, the US media reported on Tuesday.

CBS News reported that USS Theodore Roosevelt was sent in response to Iran appearing to send seven to nine ships towards Yemen, which might be carrying arms. NBC News claimed that the ships were also carrying troops from Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

However, US defence officials who spoke to NBC News, hinted that US warships were more likely to play a supporting role as Saudi Arabia, Egypt or the United Arab Emirates did the intercept. These Arab states have also placed their ships near the Yemeni coast.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier group, however, would be in position to intercept the convoy and help Arab ships if needed.

The United States supports a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states who have been carrying out air strikes at rebel targets in Yemen for more than three weeks.

There was no indication that US or other coalition warships were in contact with the Iranians, but one official told NBC News, “They know we’re there.”

The Roosevelt is part of Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, which are considered “the teeth of American foreign policy”, said a report by the US Armed Forces television channel.

Since the 1970s they’ve patrolled the world’s oceans, taking part in conflicts and operations including the Gulf wars and the war in Afghanistan.

AFP adds: Amid reports of a nine-ship Iranian convoy in the area, the US Navy said it was sending the USS Theodore Roosevelt and guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy to the Arabian Sea “to ensure the vital shipping lanes in the region remain open and safe”. The deployment brings to nine the number of US warships in the area.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2015

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