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Iran has sent a warship to the Red Sea following a Houthi attack on a container ship over the weekend, to which the U.S. responded by sinking three Houthi vessels and killing 10.
According to unconfirmed reports from social media, as cited by Reuters, the Alborz warship may have entered the Red Sea via the Bab el-Mandeb strait a day before the latest attack of the Houthis, which took place on Sunday.
Am Al-Jazeera reporter covering the region noted that Iranian ships in the Red Sea were not an unusual occurrence. “These waters are open to Iranian warships, as they’re open to many countries,” Resul Serdar said.
Per reports citing the U.S. Central Command, three Houthi ships attacked a Maersk container carrier and tried to board it on Sunday afternoon. The ship sent a distress call and U.S. helicopters stationed on nearby aircraft carriers responded. They returned fire and three Houthi ships sank.
The Houthis that control most of Yemen started attacking vessels in the Red Sea in November in response to Israel’s blanket fire over Gaza, demanding an end to the attacks and humanitarian aid for Gazans.
As a result of the attacks, all large shipping companies announced decisions to avoid the route via the Red Sea, which involves the Bab el-Mandeb strait and the Suez Canal—the shortest route between Europe and Asia. Instead, they opted for going the older and much longer route along the coast of Africa and the Cape of Good Hope.
Maersk was the first to reconsider its decision after the U.S. said it was organizing a coalition to enhance vessel protection in the Red Sea and rescheduled its ships’ routes again. Now, following the Sunday attack, the shipping major has declared a suspension of Red Sea passages for its ships for 48 hours.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.