US submarine in Middle East for 'deterrence': Pentagon

AFP , Monday 6 Nov 2023

A US nuclear-powered Ohio-class submarine is in the Middle East to help prevent the war on Gaza from spiraling into a broader conflict, the Pentagon said Monday.

US Ohio-class submarine
The United States has sent a guided missile submarine to the Middle East after Iran warned America would be hit hard if Washington didn't push for a ceasefire in Gaza. In a rare announcement, the Pentagon posted an image of the Ohio-class submarine that can fire Tomahawk cruise missiles transiting Egypt s Suez Canal. Photo courtesy of US CENTCOM.


The US Central Command posted a picture of the submarine the day before on social media platform X that appeared to show it transiting Egypt's Suez Canal.

It is "now in the Fifth Fleet area of operations," Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder told journalists, referring to an area that includes the Gulf, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.

"What this does... is further support our deterrence efforts in the region," he said, without providing further details.

Some Ohio-class submarines are armed with nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles, while others are configured to carry more than 150 Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Ryder did not specify which type is currently in the Middle East, but cruise missiles would have more immediate utility in the event of an escalation of the Israeli war on Gaza Strip that began on October 7th.

As the war on Gaza strip entered its 31st day, Israeli strikes have killed at least 10,000 Palestinians, including 4,104 children, more than 2,600 women, and 600 elderly, the Palestanian health ministry said Monday.

The United States has bolstered its forces in the region in a bid to keep the war on Gaza from spreading into a broader war, deploying two carrier strike groups and other assets to drive home its message that regional actors should not seek to take advantage of the unrest.

American forces in Iraq and Syria have been attacked 38 times with rockets and drones since mid-October, injuring dozens of American personnel, the Pentagon said Monday.

Washington has blamed the spike in attacks on Iran-backed forces, and American warplanes carried out strikes in late October against sites in Syria that the Pentagon said were linked to Tehran.

"Since October 17 Eastern time, we've had 20 attacks in Iraq, 18 in Syria,  total of 38," Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder told journalists, describing them as being "essentially... harassing attacks."

The attacks have caused a total of 45 injuries to American personnel, all of them prior to the US strikes in Syria that were carried out on October 26, Ryder said.

There are roughly 2,500 American troops in Iraq and some 900 in Syria as part of efforts to prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State group, which once held significant territory in both countries but was pushed back by local ground forces backed by international air strikes in a bloody multi-year conflict.

* This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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