US, UK issue warnings to ships transiting Middle East waters
The US is warning ships operating in and around the Strait of Hormuz to watch out for Iranian attacks after the killing of its highest-profile general last week.
US-connected commercial vessels are encouraged to exercise caution in the region and coordinate voyage planning with the Navy in case Tehran attempts to attack ships in retaliation for the airstrike that killed General Qassam Soleimani, an alert from the Maritime Administration said.
“The Iranian response to this action, if any, is unknown, but there remains the possibility of Iranian action against U.S. maritime interests in the region,” the alert read.
The alert follows on a UK Maritime Trade Operations warning last week cautioning ships in the region to remain vigilant.
Soleimani was the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Qods Force, which handles unconventional warfare for the Islamic republic. Considered a national hero to many, he was killed in Baghdad Friday and millions took to the streets Monday to mourn his death, according to state media reports.
Iran allegedly bombed six tankers in the spring and has seized several since.
Council on Foreign Relations fellow Amy Jaffe said Monday that further bombings were thwarted by a US cyber attack.
Other security sources have told TradeWinds Iranian retaliation would likely steer clear of shipping in the short-term, opting for more an approach more narrowly tailored to the US, like kidnappings or attacks on bases or proxies in the region.