Iran has deployed a fleet of warships to the Gulf of Aden, the republic’s naval commander has confirmed. The deployment follows US cruise missile strikes on Yemeni positions thought to be under Houthi rebel control.

The Iranian Navy has sent the warships to international waters for a mission that includes entering the area off the southern coast of Yemen, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari confirmed on Wednesday. The area is among the world’s busiest maritime trade routes.

“The 34th Fleet is comprised of the Bushehr logistic vessel and Alborz destroyer, and will conduct a three-month mission.”

The commander said the fleet had departed from the southern port city of Bandar Abbas in Iran. He dismissed claims the fleet has been deployed to intervene in the conflict in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia, which has fought a long war with Yemen’s Houthi rebels, accuses Iran of supporting the group – a charge denied by Tehran.

The US military carried out “limited self-defense strikes” in Yemen on Thursday, in retaliation for recent attacks on an American naval destroyer, USS Mason, which has been operating north of the Bab Al-Mandab Strait.

According to the Pentagon’s initial assessments, three “radar sites” in the Houthi rebel-controlled area of Yemen were destroyed in the attack.

The attack on coastal targets was carried out by Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from the destroyer USS Nitze, NPR reported.

The Houthis have denied carrying out the attack, however. A military source reportedly told Saba news agency – a media outlet run by the group – that the assault did not come from areas under its control.

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