Moscow, Jan 21: South Korea’s Defence Ministry announced on Tuesday that it will dispatch an anti piracy unit to the Strait of Hormuz, off the Iranian coast, although the country’s troops will act independently and not part of a US led coalition, national media reported.
According to the Yonhap news agency, Seoul’s decision reflects the ongoing tensions in the Middle East and discussions with US military officials. The Cheonghae Unit, comprising 300 military personnel, will be deployed to the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday to protect civilian vessels in the region, the agency reported. The unit previously operated in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia.
"In consideration of the current situation in the Middle East, the government has decided to temporarily expand the Cheonghae Unit's sphere of activity in order to guarantee safety of our people and the freedom of navigation of vessels," South Korea’s Defense Ministry said in a statement, as quoted by the agency.
Approximately 170 South Korean vessels make a total of 900 journeys through the Strait of Hormuz annually, the agency reported.
Amid a series of attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and Strait of Hormuz last year, the US called for an international coalition in the area to ensure the safe maritime passage of commercial vessels. (UNI-Sputnik)