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Graphic shows details of naval missions in the Middle East.


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December 6, 2019 - A growing number of countries are participating in naval missions in the Middle East to safeguard shipping lanes amid continuing tensions with Iran.

Japan is the latest country to consider sending forces to the Gulf region, with the government announcing plans to dispatch an escort ship and patrol plane from the Maritime Self-Defence Force on a one-year mission, Reuters said.

The mission would be aimed at guarding ships supplying Japan under a law that allows military deployments for research and intelligence gathering. Japan has said it will not join a U.S.-led coalition protecting merchant vessels in Middle Eastern waters.

That coalition, dubbed Operation Sentinel, was officially launched from its Bahrain headquarters in November, with participants including the U.S., UK, Australia and several Gulf states.

The U.S. has blamed Iranian forces for attacks this summer on oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz – an allegation that Iran rejected.

A separate mission to guard shipping in the Strait of Hormuz is being set up by France out of its naval base in Abu Dhabi in the UAE. The Netherlands has said it will contribute a ship to that mission for a six-month period starting in January.

Denmark, Italy and Spain are among countries that have expressed interest in joining the French-led initiative.

PUBLISHED:06/12/2019; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Getty Images