Conflict & Justice

Iranian warships enter Mediterranean Sea

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Iranian naval support ship Kharg transits through the Suez Canal on Feb. 22, 2011 bound, along with patrol frigate Alvand, for the Mediterranean Sea on a purported training mission that Israel regards as a provocation.

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Two Iranian warships have entered the Mediterrean Sea, according to reports.

The destoryer Shahid Qandi and its supply ship Kharg sailed through the Suez Canal, the BBC reported

According to Iran's state-run Press TV, the ships have since docked in the Syrian port of Tartus, where they will give training to Syria's naval forces.

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"The strategic navy of the Islamic Republic of Iran has passed through the Suez Canal for the second time since the Islamic Revolution" in 1979, the head of Iran's navy, Admiral Habibollah Sayari, told Iranian media.

He said the mission was intended to show Tehran's "might" and take a "message of peace and friendship" to the region.

The Egyptian armed forces gave Iran their permission to pass through the Suez Canal, Press TV said, adding that Tehran and Damascus agreed on the mission last year.

The last time Iranian ships entered the Mediterranean was in February 2011, when two warships sailed through on a similar training mission to Syria. Israel condemned it as a "provocation." 

The latest sail-through comes at a time of increasing tension between Iran and the West. Accusations are flying over Iran's alleged involvement in plots to attack Israeli diplomats abroad, which Tehran denies. 

Meanwhile US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was recently reported to have said that Israel could attack Iran as soon as April. And British Foreign Secretary William Hague told the Telegraph today that Iran's suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons could spark a Middle East arms race and a "new Cold War." 

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