The U.S. military said Saturday that it has sent a guided-missile submarine into the Red Sea in a public show of force in response to the recent attacks on American positions by Iran-aligned militants across the Middle East.
The USS Florida, which can carry more than 150 Tomahawk cruise missiles, moved into the region as part of a broader move by the Pentagon to beef up its forces in the region to deter Iran-backed forces from carrying out more attacks on the U.S. and its allies.
The movements of submarines aren’t often publicized unless the Pentagon wants to send a message. U.S. officials said they had intelligence that Iran was aiming to carry out more attacks across the region in the near term.
“The USS Florida presents an added measure of flexibility, survivability, readiness, and capability and we welcome this asset to the Centcom region,” said Joe Buccino, a spokesman for Centcom, the U.S. military command that oversees the Middle East and much of Central Asia.
Last week, the U.S. military said it was speeding up the dispatch of a squadron of A-10 planes to the region in response to a series of attacks on U.S. forces in Syria that killed one U.S. contractor and injured a dozen other Americans.
The contractor was killed in late March at a small base in northeastern Syria where American personnel primarily carry out counterterrorism operations targeting small pockets of Islamic State militants still living in the area. The U.S. military said the contractor was killed by a suicide drone launched by Iran-backed militants in Syria.
ordered airstrikes against the suspected attackers in Syria, which the U.S. military said killed eight militants.
“We will take all necessary measures to defend our people and will always respond at a time and place of our choosing,” Defense Secretary
said at the time. “No group will strike our troops with impunity.”
Militants later responded with two new drone and rocket attacks targeting U.S. troops in northeastern Syria.
The U.S. has about 900 troops in Syria where they primarily work alongside Kurdish-led fighters trying to ensure that Islamic State militants aren’t able to regain a foothold in the area they captured in 2014 and ruled until being routed by American forces and their Syrian allies in 2019.
Since the start of 2021, Iran-backed forces have carried out about 80 attacks against the U.S. forces in the area, according to the U.S. military. The Biden administration has carried out four airstrikes in response.
The stepped-up U.S. military presence in the Middle East comes amid a regional political shift. Iran and Saudi Arabia recently ended a seven-year diplomatic freeze and are in the process of restoring relations. On Thursday, the foreign ministers from both countries met in Beijing, which helped broker the diplomatic thaw, where they agreed to resume flights between their countries.
Some Arab and Muslim leaders are also looking at restoring diplomatic relations with Syrian President
who has been politically isolated for more than a decade after launching a brutal military crackdown that crushed an effort to force him from power.
—Michael R. Gordon contributed to this article.
Write to Dion Nissenbaum at email@example.com
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