By Beyza Binnur Donmez
ANKARA (AA) – The U.S. wants to create an international military coalition to secure passage around the Persian Gulf and Yemen due to attacks on two tankers in June it blames on Iran, according to the head of the U.S. military.
"We are engaging now with a number of countries to see if we can put together a coalition that would ensure the freedom of navigation both of the Strait of Hormuz and Bab al-Mandab," two chokepoints from the Mideast to the Arabian Sea, Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters on Wednesday.
Dunford stressed that the U.S. plans to identify within the next couple of weeks which nations have "a political will" to support this initiative, adding that it will "work directly with the militaries to identify the specific capabilities."
He said escorts should be provided by coalition member countries flying the same flag as the ship needing protection, while U.S. provides "the main awareness and intelligence surveillance" for coordination during patrols and between ships.
In June, the tension between the U.S. and Iran escalated after two oil tankers were attacked at the Strait of Hormuz. The U.S. held Iran responsible for the attacks and also accused them of destroying navigation devices in waters, both accusations denied by Iran.
Days later, Iran shot down a U.S. drone, claiming it had violated Iran's airspace. The U.S. claimed the drone had been over international waters.
Relationship between the two countries have grown more tense since 2018, when the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, despite international opposition.