BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:10 P.M.) – The Pentagon announced on Monday, that a US nuclear submarine will cross the Strait of Hormuz for the first time, accompanied by other warships.
A Pentagon official said that the passage of this submarine is a message to Tehran and a commitment from Washington to protect its allies, noting that the USS Georgia submarine is equipped with more than 150 Tomahawk missiles.
The crossing of this submarine comes just hours after the commander of US forces in the Middle East, General Frank McKenzie, said that his country is “ready to respond” if Iran attacks it on the first anniversary of the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani.
“We are ready to defend ourselves and our friends and allies in the region, and we are ready to respond if necessary,” he told reporters.
This also comes a day after the Green Zone in Baghdad was targeted by five Katyusha rockets, with some of the projectiles landing near the US embassy in Iraq.
US Secretary of State accused “Iran-backed militias” of carrying out this attack on the Baghdad Green Zone: “Iran-backed militias once again flagrantly and recklessly attacked in Baghdad, wounding Iraqi civilians. The people of Iraq deserve to have these attackers prosecuted. These violent and corrupt criminals must cease their destabilizing actions.”
Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Saeed Khatibzadeh, said that Iran condemns the attack, but warned that the timing of the rocket attack seems to coincide with the last days of US President Donald Trump’s tenure.
Tensions between Iran and the US have been incredibly high for over a year, but the January 3rd, 2020, assassination of Qassem Soleimani and the Deputy Head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units, Abu Mahdi Al-Mohandis, brought the conflict to new heights, as the Islamic Republic responded directly for the first time since the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979.