Britain's navy to escort UK-flagged ships through Strait of Hormuz
Britain’s navy will accompany UK-flagged ships through the Strait of Hormuz to provide protection after the U.S. killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani inflamed tensions in the region, Reuters reports.
Britain’s defence minister, Ben Wallace, ordered the HMS Montrose and HMS Defender to prepare to return to escort duties in the major oil shipping route as Prime Minister Boris Johnson came in for criticism for his silence over the killing.
Media reports have said Johnson is on holiday in the Caribbean.
“The government will take all necessary steps to protect our ships and citizens at this time,” Wallace said in a statement.
Britain was forced to defend its ships through the world’s most important shipping route last year after Iranian commandos seized a British-flagged tanker in the Strait.
British forces had previously captured an Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar that was accused of violating sanctions on Syria. The killing of Soleimani has raised fears that tankers could be targeted again.
Wallace said he had spoken to his U.S. counterpart, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and urged restraint on all sides.
“Under international law, the United States is entitled to defend itself against those posing an imminent threat to their citizens,” he added.