US officials say Iran has begun naval operation in the Middle East

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WASHINGTON, United States of America

Iran has begun a major military exercise in the Persian Gulf region according to a US defense official directly familiar with the latest US information.

The “exercise is underway,” and the US assesses the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has deployed “dozens” of small boats in the initial phase. The exercise is taking place in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman.
While Iran has not widely publicized the exercise, the US military is concerned it could demonstrate Iran’s ability to interfere with commercial shipping and shut down the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial conduit for global energy supplies, US officials say.
The timing is unusual. These types of IRGC exercises typically happen much later in the year and the official said the US assesses that the exercise is partly being held in response to rising rhetoric from the US.
Tensions between the two nations increased after the US withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in May. The Trump White House has moved to reinstate sanctions on Tehran in two major tranches. Some will be reimposed in August and target autos, gold and other key metals, while others will snap back in November and target the energy sector and transactions with Iran’s central bank.