Category: Yemen
Mercenaries in Yemen: the US Connection

http://www.globalresearch.ca/mercenaries-in-yemen-the-us-connection/5494661

Latin American mercenaries are leaving the ranks of the national armies of their countries to fight in the deserts of Yemen, wearing the uniform of the United Arab Emirates. They have been contracted by private US companies and in some cases directly by the government of the Arab country, which, thanks to vast oil reserves, has the second largest economy of the region.

An article in the New York Times revealed that 450 Latin American soldiers, among them Colombians, Panamanians, Salvadorans and Chileans, have been deployed to Yemen. The mercenaries receive training in the United Arab Emirates before deployment, in part from U.S. trainers.

The presence of Latin American mercenaries in the Middle East is not new. Colombian news media have interviewed mercenaries returning from the Middle East for years. They tell of being recruited by transnational companies with promises of salaries far beyond what they’d receive at home. However, the conflict in Yemen seems to be the first time that Latin American mercenaries have been sent into combat.

Colombia contributes the largest number. According to the New York Times, the UAE military recruits Colombians because of their experience fighting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the jungles and mountains of their country. But there is another reason.

Since the beginning of Plan Colombia, between 2000 and 2015 the U.S. spent almost $7 billion to train, advise and equip Colombia’s security forces. In the last few years, the U.S. government has carried out a strategy to prepare the Colombians for an emerging industry: the “export of security.”

And apparently, one way to export security is to become a U.S.-trained mercenary for Washington’s wars in other parts of the world.

Colombian troops, drilled in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency techniques, instead of exporting security are exporting the United States’ geopolitical agenda of permanent war. They end up doing the dirty work of their ally to the north, who, as a consequence, avoids exposing its forces to harm or facing accusations of interventionism.

According to analyst William Hartung, the United States government has trained a total of 30,000 soldiers from the four countries that make up the Latin American mercenary force in Yemen. A recent investigative report from El Salvador cites a Ministry of Defense source affirming that there are about 100 Salvadorans operating in Yemen. While the Colombians claim to have contracts directly with the Emirati military, in El Salvador the source states that contracting goes through a national company subcontracted by Northrup Grumman.

Northrup Grumman has a history in the Middle East mercenary business. Forbes reports that it absorbed an obscure company called Vinnelli that holds a $819 million-dollar contract to provide personnel for the Saudi National Guard, dating back to 1975.

The same Salvadoran source affirms that there are also Mexicans in Yemen. Mexico was not included in the New York Times report, but has a close relationship with the United States security complex through the war on drugs.

It cannot be known for sure if the hundreds of Latin American mercenaries were trained in the United States or by the U.S. military in their own countries. The U.S. government does not reveal the names of the soldiers or police that it has trained. Nor is there a public registry of mercenaries. Although the practice is legal in certain contexts, it forms part of the underground world of war, in which shadow powers dictate the conditions in which we live–and often die.

What is certain is that contracting Latin American mercenaries follows the logic of the new style of war designed by the Pentagon. This strategy reduces risks to U.S. troops, increases civilian deaths and feeds war profits. Drones–unmanned airplanes–kill thousands of civilians without risking a single life on the part of the aggressors. They’re shielded from the blood of their victims and the horror of their screams.

While technology makes long-distance war possible, another aspect of proxy war is to get others to fight your battles. A sad reflection of patriarchal violence and economic inequality, the recruitment of foreign mercenaries is central to modern-day warfare.

In the case of Yemen, the populations of the countries that are involved in the conflict or feel threatened by it, such as the United Arab Emirates, have no desire to go to war. In recent months the UAE has suffered increasing casualities on the ground while the U.S. and Saudi members of the coalition keep to the skies.

And the United States has strong interests in the region, but does not want to pay the political price of seeing its soldiers return home in body bags. The solution? Hire mercenaries from impoverished Latin American countries.

Recruiting young men from Latin American countries feeds the U.S. war industry. American companies like Blackwater, which has changed its name but remains Erik Prince’s empire of death, and Northrup Grumman, headquartered in Virginia, squeeze more out of their juicy government contracts by reducing soldiers’ pay. According to Colombian reports, their mercenaries receive less than half what European or U.S. soldiers get. Despite the gouging, they still make on average five times more than what they would earn in their home countries.

The third and often ignored element of the new remote-control war is weapons sales. U.S. arms sales are booming, bringing millions of dollars to the U.S. defense industry–a powerful lobby in Congress. US strategists recognize that arms sales effectively advance the geopolitical agenda by changing the balance of power in strategic conflicts.

The Obama administration has promoted bombings by the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and developed a very close relationship with the UAE, which shares its zeal for eliminating the Islamic State. The administration has now decided to sell another $1.3 billion dollars worth of weapons to these countries to replenish supplies. While military aid to allies (and in not a small number of cases, to both sides of armed conflicts) has always been a tool of hegemony, arms sales are now explicitly a central strategy.


The Pentagon and its promoters in Congress openly talk about the advantages of killing from a distance. Critics cite the many lethal attacks on civilians, including large numbers of women and children that are characteristic of this type of war. The UN calculates that the war in Yemen has already led to the deaths of 2,500 civilians, among them women and children; almost 500 were killed by U.S. drone strikes.

Now how many will die at the hands of Latin American mercenaries?

And how many young men–Colombians, Mexicans, Salvadorans–will take their last breath in a desert half a world away, fighting a war that isn’t theirs?

Laura Carlsen is the director of the Americas Program in Mexico City and advisor to Just Associates (JASS) .

Just imagine… if Russian troops were amassed on America’s borders

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/375011-just-imagine-russian-troops-america/

Neil Clark
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
Just imagine... if Russian troops were amassed on America's borders
All we have to do to highlight the enormous hypocrisy and double standards which are the hallmark of domestic and international politics is to switch the names around.

Actions taken by Western establishment approved countries and actors which are deemed to be totally uncontroversial-would be deemed to be ‘absolutely outrageous’ if done to them.

Here’s a few examples:

Just imagine… if a close Russian ally, whose forces were trained by Russia, was bombing the poorest country in the Middle East, with cluster bombs supplied by Moscow. Furthermore, in the country that was being attacked, a famine threatened the lives millions of people.

Well, the poorest country in the Middle East is Yemen, and it’s being bombed to smithereens by the one of the richest, Saudi Arabia, a close ally of Britain, using UK-made cluster bombs. And guess what, the West’s ‘something must be done brigade,’ who expressed so much ’humanitarian’ concern over the fighting to regain Aleppo from Al-Qaeda/Al Nusra terrorists, are silent. How strange.

Just imagine… if a plane carrying members of a famous French military choir had crashed on Christmas Day, killing everyone on board. And that shortly afterwards, a leading Russian ’satirical magazine’ had mocked the tragedy, drawing cartoons of the choir singing to ‘a new audience’ on the seabed and posted a caption saying that the only ‘bad news’ about the crash was that French President Francois Hollande had not been on board. There would, I’m sure, have been plenty of ‘superior’ discussion in Western media about the ‘moral depravity’ and the ‘dark soul’ of the Russian character. But the plane that crashed was carrying Russian singers. And it was the elite-approved Charlie Hebdo magazine which poked fun at the dead.

So there was no outcry in the West. And no accusations of ‘racism.’

Just imagine… if it had been NATO, and not the Warsaw Pact, which had been disbanded at the end of the old Cold War. And then Russia, breaking the promises it had made to the US President, had expanded the Warsaw Pact right up to the borders of the USA, deploying thousands of troops and dozens of tanks and other military hardware in Mexico and Canada.  Would commentators in ‘respectable‘ establishment journals be calling this ‘American aggression‘? I think not.

Just imagine… if a senior political officer at the Russian Embassy in London had been caught on film talking about the ‘take down’ of a British Foreign Officer Minister deemed to be too critical of Russia and who was causing the country “a lot of problems.” That there was a group called ‘Labour Friends of Russia’ and the political officer said the Embassy had a fund of more than £1m for them? We can be sure that the revelations would have led, at the very least, to diplomatic expulsions, the announcement of a full-scale government investigation, as well as a plethora of articles on the ‘outrageous’ interference by Russia in British political affairs. But the senior political officer caught on film was working for Israel, so a potential plot about the ’take down’ of a UK minister was deemed to be not a very important news story. By more or less the same people who would have been telling us it was a very important news story if it had involved Russia.

Just imagine… if Hillary Clinton and not Donald Trump had won the US Presidential election in November and Trump’s supporters had behaved in the way that Clinton’s have. That intelligence officials had tried to de-legitimize Clinton’s victory by claiming Saudi interference in the election, and produced as proof of this a document which drew attention to Saudi TV‘s alleged pro-Clinton stance.

Then, a week before the inauguration of President-elect Clinton was due to take place, the US media publicized a dossier compiled by an ex-intelligence officer from another country claiming Saudi Arabia was blackmailing Clinton, even though the dossier was unverified and contained glaring factual errors. The papers would I’m sure be full of commentary from ’liberal’ pundits raging about a ‘coup’ and anti-democratic attempts to overturn the election result. However, Trump won on November 8th, and not Clinton, so he’s fair game for ‘Deep State’ attacks. All in the name of ‘democracy.’

Just imagine… if UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn had urged MPs to support a socialist ’Peace Rocket,’ which would cost the British taxpayer at least £31 billion and possibly as much as £205 billion, over its lifetime. That Corbyn had praised the ‘Peace Rocket’ as being ’worth every penny’ and absolutely essential for Britain and for the peace of the world. Then, after Parliament had voted in favor, it came to light that the Peace Rocket had misfired on a test and that Corbyn had kept schtum about it. That four times he had been asked by the BBC’s Andrew Marr if he had known about the misfire, and four times he had avoided answering the question.

We can be sure the calls for Corbyn to resign would have been deafening. That there would have been fearsome denunciations of the ‘enormous waste’ of taxpayers money on a ‘socialist vanity project.’ And that the vote on the ‘Peace Rocket’ would be held again. But it was the elite-approved Trident and not a socialist ‘Peace Rocket‘ that misfired, so the response has been very different.

We’re told the malfunction of Britain’s ‘independent nuclear deterrent,’ and the failure of the government to mention it before Parliament voted on renewal, is no big deal. That the misfiring Trident is still worth spending billions of pounds of taxpayers money on at a time of austerity. And of course, there is absolutely no need for Parliament to debate the issue again…
Just imagine… if Russia had spent $5 billion in trying to bring about a regime change in Canada, with neo-Nazis providing the ‘cutting edge’ of anti-government protests. That torchlight processions by neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists -commemorating wartime SS divisions were held in the new ‘democratic’ Canada.

We could expect widespread condemnations and denunciations of Russia’s ‘links’ to the ’far right.’ But it’s happening in Ukraine. And guess what? The West’s ‘fascism is coming’ brigade are not the slightest bit interested.

Follow Neil Clark on Twitter @NeilClark66

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

West Already Weaponizing Fake News
| November 23, 2016 | 6:51 pm | Analysis, political struggle, Russia, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen | No comments
19:56 23.11.2016(updated 20:02 23.11.2016)
Finian Cunningham
You really know that masses of people are living within a mind-control matrix when the greatest, most pervasive purveyors of fake news denounce others for the practice. And yet they do so without the slightest hint of awareness about their own monstrous hypocrisy. “Fake news” has become a hot issue following the surprise US election victory of maverick business tycoon Donald Trump. Supposedly serious Western media outlets have highlighted the spread of hoax stories purporting to be news reports as having swayed the presidential race in Trump’s favor against his rival, Democrat career politician Hillary Clinton. One such hoax “report” was that Pope Francis had allegedly given his blessing to Trump just before the November 8 poll, which presumably prompted some American Catholics on board the Republican’s election ticket. No doubt, the internet is a plentiful source of false rumor and other bizarre, tall stories. But now, it seems, Western corporate media giants are calling for Facebook and other social networking sites to weed out “fake news”. Given how wrong the US media called the election and also their rabid bias against Trump, the hunt for a scapegoat is understandable. US media mogul Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, seems ready to comply with demands to provide a team of censors against the spread of fictive reports. Even though, he claims that the vast majority of news links on his worldwide network are to genuine, factual content. This is setting a sinister precedent for abusive, systematic censorship. Unfortunately, control of global information is prone to subjective Western cultural and political bias. Already we see how it is Western media outlets who are making an issue over “fake news” and it is Western-based internet companies like Facebook and Google who are taking on the mantle of filtering out content. It is not hard, therefore, to imagine how this train of thought could be applied eventually to non-Western news services that supply information critical of Western government interests an conduct. Take, for example, the war in Syria. Russian news media have provided many important, documented reports and analyses on how Washington and its Western allies are systematically colluding with jihadi terror groups to prosecute a covert, criminal war for regime change against the elected government of Syria. By contrast, the Western corporate media have rarely if ever given any coverage to such verifiable violations by their governments in Syria. Or in any other recent conflict for that matter, such as in Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Georgia. Of course, this is because Western media outlets are part of the ideological, propaganda matrix that serves to conceal the crimes of Western governments, which, in turn, serve to facilitate the strategic interests of Western corporations. Western so-called news services do on occasion publish outright fake news, such as when Iraq was accused of possessing weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the US-led war in 2003. But far more often, the informational fare is less crudely fabricated and more subtly finessed with distortions and omissions of crucial facts and context. Still, that is tantamount to fake news, no less. This week, Western newspapers and TV channels were reporting on how Russia was “destabilizing European security” by installing Iskander missiles and the S-400 defense system in its territory of Kaliningrad – the exclave between Lithuania and Poland. The supposedly august London Times headlined its report thus: “Putin moves his missiles in new threat to Europe”. The foreboding tone is typical of the constant flow of Western media reports over many months alleging that Russian warships and warplanes are menacing European territories. From Britain’s Daily Mail to America’s New York Times we have been told since at least last year that Russian troops were about to invade the Baltic states. No matter that Moscow, including President Vladimir Putin and his top diplomat Sergei Lavrov, has repeatedly dismissed the allegations of Russian aggression. Undeterred, the Western “news stories” just keep being churned out as if by a manic conveyor belt. As always, this week’s Western Russian-scare episode was spun and disseminated without the appropriate, crucial context. The installation of missiles on Russia’s western-most territory comes after the US-led NATO military alliance announced plans last month to greatly escalate troops on Russia’s border. The Kaliningrad move also follows the deployment of US missile systems in Romania earlier this year. Evidently, Russia’s latest military measures are in response to US and NATO offensive steps, or as Putin told American film director Oliver Stone in an interview aired this week, the Russian moves are “counter-measures”. Washington and its NATO allies justify their reckless escalation on Russia’s borders as “defensive response” to alleged Russian intervention in Ukraine in 2014 and Georgia in 2008. But such Western claims are easily disputable, indeed rendered baseless if given to objective scrutiny. The trouble is, however, Western media have by and large not allowed factual reportage to intrude on their pre-ordained narrative of impugning and demonizing Russia. What we see is a systematic information campaign – bluntly, propaganda – that propagates fake news upon fake news in order to justify Western strategic interests. Those interests include: propping up NATO and the Western military-industrial complex that is so vital to sustain late capitalist economies; as well as subjugating Russia and its enormous natural resources for exploitation by Western corporations. In this perspective, fake news about the Pope backing Donald Trump or about Hillary Clinton’s health condition is a trifle. The real perpetrators of fake news are professional media conglomerates that pound TV channels and internet screens every second of every day, with the diabolical risk of igniting all-out global war. This corporate-controlled fake news about alleged Russian aggression in Europe or purported violations in Syria and Ukraine is correlated with the sanitizing of real news about how Western governments are supporting terrorists in Syria, or aiding and abetting state-sponsored slaughter of civilians in Yemen. So pervasive is this matrix that the systematic purveyors of fake news can turn around and, with a straight face, pontificate to others about the “ethics of journalism”. What is truly alarming is that the West’s weaponization of information – self-declared as independent, free-thinking – has become so inculcated that real, alternative news could end up being banished from public access. Dissenting news sites, including many that are based in the West and elsewhere, including Russia’s RT and Sputnik, often convey context and facts that upend Western official narratives. Just because those alternative news perspectives might appear outlandish to grossly distorted Western narratives, will they then be subject to censorship? Accusing Western governments of sponsoring terrorism or fabricating “Russian aggression” could, plausibly, seem like fake news if control of the internet were given over to a coterie of Western-based monitors. But such designation of “fake news” is only due to oblivious cultural arrogance and indoctrination. Maybe the internet will not succumb to the latest Western crusade against “fake news”. However, considering how so much of Western “news” is already weaponized and when you consider the deeper malign purposes that it truly serves, then the practice of creeping censorship is never too far away. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

Read more: https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201611231047764979-west-weaponizing-fake-news/

America and Lackeys Insult People of the World
| November 3, 2016 | 8:48 pm | Analysis, political struggle, Russia, Syria, Yemen | No comments
13:44 01.11.2016(updated 13:52 01.11.2016)
Finian Cunningham
Publicly insulting Russia, with audacious accusations over Syria, is how Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov this week described US political posturing. And it’s not just Russia that Washington is insulting – it’s the entire world. Such is the preposterous hypocrisy of US leaders and their international network of cronies. US client regime Saudi Arabia – the world’s most repressive – being given a seat on the UN human rights council over the weekend while Russia was forced out of it is just one glaring insult among many. Russia’s top diplomat was referring to US officials and Western allies accusing Russia of “barbarism” and “war crimes” in its ongoing military intervention in Syria. Yet these unverified, hysterical charges that Washington levels against Moscow in Syria are proven against the US and its allies who have committed huge war crimes in dozens of countries over recent years. Crimes that go unaccounted for. Lavrov cited the case of former Yugoslavia in particular where, in 1999, US-led NATO warplanes killed thousands of civilians in air strikes on public infrastructure. Since then, illegal overseas wars launched by Washington – in brazen violation of international law – have proliferated with a death toll counted in millions. Currently, US forces are bombing seven countries, including Iraq, Syria and Yemen, inflicting civilian deaths on a daily basis. Yet it is Washington and its Western minions who have the audacity to condemn Russia over its military operations to salvage Syria from a US-led covert war for regime change. That the US has orchestrated a criminal covert war in Syria since March 2011 – violating the human rights of millions of Syrians – is a shocking reality that only the servile Western media continues to conceal. Last week, the Western propaganda campaign to demonize Russia scored a dubious “victory” by having Russia dropped from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). That move was achieved on the back of a media-driven agenda claiming that Russian air strikes were indiscriminately targeting civilians in the northern Syria city of Aleppo. Never mind that Russian (and Syrian) aircraft have not been carrying out combat missions around Aleppo for nearly two weeks in order to facilitate humanitarian aid efforts in the war-torn city. Never mind that those aid efforts have been continually sabotaged by foreign-backed terrorist groups holding civilians under siege in eastern Aleppo for the past four years. Russia’s military intervention in Syria over the past year has helped Syrian government forces liberate hundreds of towns and villages from a reign of terror imposed by foreign-backed mercenaries, all of which are integrated with the internationally outlawed terrorist networks Islamic State (Daesh) and Nusra Front. None of this is given any acknowledgment by the West and its subservient news media, which instead inverts reality by amplifying spurious claims leveled against Russia by the terrorist sponsors. The battle for Aleppo is fully consistent with the objective of liberating Syria from a US-led criminal conspiracy to destroy the country and to replace the elected government of President Bashar al-Assad with a pro-Western puppet regime. Over the weekend, Western media strained credulity by referring to “rebels breaking the regime’s siege on Aleppo”. These so-called rebels are none other than Al Qaeda-linked terrorists of Nusra Front and its myriad offshoots, like Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Fatah. It isn’t the Syrian army and its Russian ally that are holding the city siege. It is the terrorists. And over the weekend their shelling resulting in dozens of civilians being killed, including reportedly 14 children in government-held western Aleppo. Even the abjectly one-sided Western media could not conceal the slaughter by terrorist “rebels” whom the United States and its allies have supported with money, weapons and training to do their geopolitical bidding in Syria since 2011. Meanwhile, in neighboring Iraq, a US coalition that includes Britain, France and Turkey continued bombing the city of Mosul, ostensibly to defeat extremists holding a civilian population as human shields – extremists whom the US and its partners have covertly supported next door in Syria. US-led aerial bombardment of Mosul has resulted in heavy civilian casualties since the offensive was launched on October 17, according to local sources. Elsewhere over the weekend, Saudi warplanes, supported by the US, Britain and France, ratcheted up even more crimes against humanity. Some 10,000 people have been killed since the Saudi coalition began bombing the region’s poorest country in March 2015. In an air strike on the Red Sea port city of Hodeida, Saudi warplanes attacked a prison, killing more than 60 inmates and security staff. It was just the latest atrocity in a litany of such deadly strikes on civilian centers, including hospitals, schools, markets, mosques, family homes and even funeral halls. Last week, UN agencies reported that nearly half the Yemeni population of 24 million is facing starvation. Images of skeletal children are emerging, wracked by dysentery and cholera. This barbaric nationwide ordeal has been created by the Saudi regime and its Western patrons imposing a sea and air blockade on the country. It is no exaggeration to say that the whole Yemeni nation is an imprisoned population that is being bombed over and over without the slightest compunction for women and children being blown to pieces. Without American, British and French military support the Saudi slaughter in Yemen would cease immediately. Western-backed Saudi claims of Iranian subversion in Yemen, from allegedly supporting Houthi rebels, are a risible pretext. Washington and its clients are destroying Yemen simply because they can’t abide a popular, genuinely pro-democracy uprising succeeding in a vital oil-rich region that underpins US hegemony through despotic Arab rule, as in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf monarchical dictatorships. On the same weekend that Russia was sanctioned at the UNHRC, it was yet another blood-soaked orgy of state-sponsored terrorism carried out by the US, its allies and their mercenary surrogates. The US, Britain, France and Saudi Arabia are among the 47 member states represented on the Geneva-based human rights council. The Saudi feudalist monarchy, which executes prisoners convicted of “sorcery” and other crimes by public beheading, and which bans women from driving cars, only obtained its seat on the UNHRC due to Britain fixing the votes. Russia, which has stood against the terrorist-sponsoring aggression in Syria by Washington and its rogue-state partners, is singled out for sanction over allegations of committing violations. This censure is insulting because not only is it a travesty of justice. It is an insult to common intelligence which can see through the preposterous lies of the US and its accomplices. The utter disconnect and deception by Washington and other Western governments may fool some of the people some of the time, but over the long-run such corruption is coming unstuck. The turmoil, anger and disdain among ordinary people towards criminals in high office is reaching boiling point in the US, Europe and across the world. The more that these illegitimate rulers seek to justify their existence and criminal enterprises the more it offends ordinary human intelligence. Russia is right to be aggrieved by the public insults that emanate from Washington and its lackeys. But Russia is certainly not alone in being grotesquely wronged. The whole world is aggrieved by putting up so far with an international oligarchy of thieves, exploiters and sponsors of terrorism. So far.

Read more: https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201611011046950546-america-and-lackeys-insult-people-of-the-world/

Iranian warships deployed off Yemen coast after US bombs Houthi targets
| October 13, 2016 | 7:37 pm | Analysis, Iran, political struggle, Yemen | No comments

https://www.rt.com/news/362643-iran-warships-yemen-aden/

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 fleet will provide security to sea ways for Iranian vessels and protect Iran’s interests on the high seas,” Sayyari told Press TV.

“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.

Iranian ships have been tasked with providing security for civil boat traffic and protecting commercial vessels and oil tankers from pirates in the region, the rear admiral told Iranian television on Thursday.

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 Iranians have a permanent presence in that part of the world … [as] there is a lot of instability in the Red Sea and Iranian ships are there to prevent pirates from boarding Iranian ships and they’ve been doing that for a number of years now, having also protected the ships of other countries,” political analyst and Tehran university professor Mohammad Marandi told RT, adding that the “real problem is the US presence” in the region.

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.

“These allegations are unfounded and the army as well popular forces have nothing to do with this action,” the source said

“The US allegations just came in the context of creating false justifications to pave the way for Saudi-led coalition to escalate their… attacks against Yemen and to cover for crimes continually committed by the aggression coalition against the Yemeni people and to continue an all-out blockade,” the spokesman added.

He said the army is ready to confront any future aggression against the country, whatever the justification.

Last week, around 150 people were killed and hundreds injured in one of the bloodiest incidents in the Yemeni conflict. Saturday’s bombardment reportedly carried out by Saudi-led coalition jets devastated a funeral ceremony held in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a.

Saudi Arabia has denied responsibility for the attack. Meanwhile, images and footage of what some have claimed to be fragments of a US-made bomb found at the scene of the deadly strike in Sanaa have emerged online. Following the incident at the funeral hall, missiles targeting a US Navy guided missile destroyer were fired from the Yemeni shore, according to Pentagon, which said the rockets, which failed to hit the ship, allegedly came from territory controlled by Houthi rebels.