BRITISH SPECIAL FORCES have been flown into the Middle East as part of a secret contingency operation to counter potential Iranian attacks on UK merchant shipping transiting the narrow waters of the Persian Gulf.
It follows a ratcheting of tension in the region, with the US deploying an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers to the Gulf in response to what it said were credible threats from Iranian forces. And last night one of the US’ most senior diplomats warned Iran not to underestimate President Trump’s resolve for military action. In Britain, the Foreign Office has warned British-Iranians not to travel to the country in case they are detained. Now two SBS teams have joined UK registered oil tankers transiting in the Persian Gulf south through the Strait of Hormuz, where they will be tasked with monitoring Iranian activity around the island of Qesham – home to Iranian naval gunboats. Both teams will collate information as the ships move south through the Strait of Hormuz and into the Gulf of Oman, where it is understood they will be airlifted off by Royal Navy Merlin helicopters operating out of Oman.
Just days ago four oil tankers were attacked with explosive devices south of the port of Fujairah in the Gulf of Oman, regularly used by the Royal Navy as a crew change stop and logistics hub for its nuclear powered hunter killer submarines.
Military analysts believe the attacks were mounted by Iranian special forces to demonstrate how easy it would be for Tehran to close down the Strait of Hormuz and bring oil exports to a halt if Washington continues to threaten the Islamic Republic.
Britain and the US seemed to display a rare difference in policies over the middle east last week when the Pentagon publicly corrected a statement from Maj-Gen Chris Ghika, the UK’s military commander in the US-led mission against Islamic State, that “there’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria”.
But sources later explained that…
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