The US has bolstered its naval presence in the waters off the war-torn Yemen by sending an aircraft carrier and a guided missile cruiser following the spectre of Iran sending weapons to the Shia Houthi rebels to fight the Yemen government.
The US Navy confirmed in a communique that the US had decided to strengthen its presence in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea with the USS Theodore Roosevelt and its escort, the USS Normandy, setting sail from the Persian Gulf on Sunday, according to the Spanish news agency Efe.
The US vessels will also operate in the Bab-el-Mandeb strait and the southern Red Sea.
The US Navy said that the two ships, which would join 10 other US ships near Yemen, would “ensure the vital shipping lanes in the region remain open and safe”.
A Pentagon spokesman told Efe that the statements by some US media outlets that the operation was mounted in response to Tehran’s alleged plan to send weaponry to the Houthis were “incorrect”.
Tensions in the region have been rising despite negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers, comprising the US, Russia, China, France and Britain, plus Germany, regarding the Iranian nuclear programme.
The conflict in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is heading the coalition fighting the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, continues to ratchet up.
The US said that it was not directly participating in the Saudi-led strikes in Yemen, but rather was providing intelligence and logistical support.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt had been stationed in the Persian Gulf and has been launching airstrikes against the IS forces in Syria.