A senior US defense official said the United States is deploying additional warplanes around the strategic Strait of Hormuz to protect ships from Iranian takeover.
Speaking to Pentagon reporters on Friday, the official said the US will send F-16 fighter jets to the Gulf region this weekend to bolster A-10 attack aircraft that have been patrolling there for more than a week.
The Associated Press reported that Washington’s increase in military assets in the region comes after Iran tried to seize two oil tankers near the strait last week.
The defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to provide details of US military operations in the region, said the F-16s would provide air cover for ships moving through the waterway and would increase the visibility of the US military in the area, as a deterrent. In Iran, the Associated Press reported.
In two recent cases, the US Navy said, Iranian Navy ships backed off when the guided-missile destroyer USS McFaul arrived on the scene.
The defense official also told reporters that the United States is studying a number of military options to deal with the increasing Russian aggression in the Syrian airspace. The official declined to disclose the options, but said the United States would not cede any territory and would continue to fly into western Syria in operations against the Islamic State group.
The official said that Russian military activity in Syria, which has accelerated against US forces since March, stems from growing cooperation and coordination between Moscow, Tehran and the Syrian government in an attempt to pressure the United States to leave Syria.
The latest incident occurred on Friday morning, when a Russian plane repeatedly flew over the al-Tanf barracks in eastern Syria, where US forces train Syrian allies and monitor Islamic State activities.
The official said the Russian An-30 was gathering intelligence on the base. The official said the United States had no combat aircraft in the area and had not taken any direct action against the Russian flight.
There are about 900 US troops in the country, with more coming in and out to carry out missions targeting ISIS.