Iranian attacks on tankers in the Persian Gulf are sparking a military response from the US’s closest ally. Royal Marines are now deploying to the region to protect British military and merchant ships from any more Iranian attacks.
Tensions in the Gulf have been on the rise for months, spilling over into violence just last week when Iranian forces allegedly attacked two oil tankers with limpet mines in the Gulf of Oman.
The Gulf, in this case, refers to the wider waterway that leads from the Indian Ocean to the Strait of Hormuz, a passage that’s only 21 miles wide at its narrowest. It also separates Iran from the Gulf Arab states.
It’s still not clear exactly how the tankers were attacked, although all the evidence points to the mines being placed by speedboats operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. These small, fast boats are most dangerous in the Strait, but can also reach out into the Gulf of Oman and Persian Gulf when needed. The Royal Marines operate from the British base at Bahrain, halfway up the Gulf.
The Ministry of Defence says they will deploy around 100 Marines organized into a new company titled Special Purpose Task Group 19. Members will patrol in helicopters and high-speed boats, intercepting and destroying any IRGC boats that threaten shipping lines and/or allied ships. The RM can operate closely with the United States Marine Corps, which was modeled on the British unit.
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