World Bulletin/News Desk
A U.S. navy ship that had been slated for decommissioning has been sent instead to the Gulf to help mine-clearing operations, the U.S. Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain said, the latest move in a gradual U.S. build-up as tensions with Iran smoulder.
A fleet spokesman in Manama said the USS Ponce, described as a "afloat forward staging base" (AFSB), had arrived on Thursday after undergoing refitting for its new mission.
"Ponce's primary mission is to support mine countermeasures operations and other missions, such as the ability to provide repair service to other deployed units," the spokesman said in a statement. "Additionally, Ponce also has the capability to embark and launch small riverine craft."
Vice Admiral John Miller, commander of regional navy forces, said the Ponce boasted "enhanced capability to conduct maritime security operations, and gives us greater flexibility to support a wide range of contingencies with our regional partners".
Four U.S. minesweepers arrived in the Gulf last month to bolster the Fifth Fleet and ensure the safety of shipping routes in a waterway through which 40 percent of the world's seaborne oil exports flow.
They arrived amid a flaring war of nerves between the United States and Iran over Tehran's nuclear energy programme and Iranian threats to block the Strait of Hormuz, the slender oil shipping channel out of the Gulf, in retaliation for a new European Union ban on its oil exports.
The four minesweepers were ticketed for a seven-month deployment in an area of operations that includes the Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.
Tensions have simmered in the Gulf with big-power diplomacy to ease the nuclear dispute at an impasse and Israel renewing veiled threats to attack Iran from the air if sanctions and negotiations fail to curb Iran's nuclear advances.
A string of hawkish Iranian statements - including a renewed threat to close the Strait and destroy U.S. bases in the region "within minutes" of an attack - over the past week helped thrust benchmark Brent crude oil prices above $100 for the first time since June.
Iran has repeatedly warned of reprisals for any Israeli or U.S.-led strike on its nuclear installations.
French President Francois Hollande arrived in Qatar on Monday to oversee the signing of the deal to sell 24 Rafale fighter jets.
The army source told state television the security forces had killed all the members of armed group in the bustling Rukn al Din district during a chase after a suicide bomber blew himself up.
Police in Israel have fired tear gas and stun grenades in clashes with ethnic Ethiopians protesting about what they say is police brutality and racism.
Thousands of Ethiopian Jews demonstrated on Sunday in Tel Aviv to protest Israeli police's heavy-handed practices against their community.
On Friday, Kuwaiti security forces arrested al-Tabtabaie for a tweet in which he claimed that there was pressure from Tehran to sideline Kuwaiti Crown Prince Nawaf Al-Jaber Al-Sabah
Some soldiers belonging to the Saudi-led Arab coalition were deployed Saturday night in Yemen's southern province Aden, local residents have said.
Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri told there were no non-Yemeni forces fighting in Aden
According to sources, Arab troops join pro-Hadi group fighting Houthis near Aden airport
Iranian news outlets had reported that al-Jubeir stressed the importance of the Iran's "role" in the Middle East
This was the second protest to be held in Hadhramaut against Al-Qaeda.
Ofir Gendelman warned Israeli citizens on Twitter against travelling to the North African state.
Move seeks to open negotiations for end to more than a decade of conflict.
An infant was killed and more than 80 people experienced respiratory problems in alleged toxic gas attacks by the Assad regime in northern Syria.
Al-Sisi was welcomed at the Riyadh Airbase Airport by New Crown Prince Mohamed bin Nayef and Deputy Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has said that Iran will not allow other regional nations to jeapordize their relations with Yemen.
Shadi el-Menei was thought to have been killed last year and a statement issued by a tribe chieftain, said that he has escaped to the Gaza strip.