Iran said Monday it will stage joint naval exercises with Russia and China by the end of the year as tensions in the region escalate over attacks by Yemen-based Houthi forces on commercial ship traffic and U.S. strikes on hostile Tehran-allied militia forces in Iraq and Syria over the weekend.
On Monday, the head of Iran‘s navy said other countries also have been invited to join the naval maneuvers. Iran has condemned the U.S. attacks, some of which targeted sites used by Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps operatives.
“This exercise will be carried out with the aim of protecting the security of the region and common interests,” Rear Adm. Shahram Irani said, according to the state-owned Islamic Republic News Agency.
In March 2023, warships from Russia, China and Iran carried out “Security Bond 2023,” a joint naval exercise in the Sea of Oman.
The announcement comes after U.S. Central Command forces on Sunday conducted a strike against a Houthi land attack cruise missile site in Yemen. Officials said they were prepared to launch against ships in the Red Sea and presented “an imminent threat to U.S. Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region.”
The Houthis, who have a long history of military and diplomatic ties to Iran, say they have launched the attacks on shipping in solidarity with Hamas Palestinian forces now battling Israel in the Gaza Strip.
SEE ALSO: Biden has only just begun retaliation against Iran; Tehran issues warning after strikes
“These actions will protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for U.S. Navy vessels and merchant vessels,” U.S. Central Command said in a statement afterward.
Iranian officials have called the strikes launched against the Houthi forces “a repeated violation of Yemen’s territorial integrity and a gross breach of international law.”
“The perpetuation of such arbitrary moves would amount to blatant adventurism and a worrying threat to international peace and security,” said Nasser Kanaani, a spokesman for Iran‘s foreign ministry. He accused Washington and London of stoking chaos and instability in order to create “breathing space” for Israel, which he referred to as the “criminal Zionist regime.”
“The international community has a responsibility to hold the United States and Britain accountable,” Mr. Kanaani said.