Iranian officer looks at Strait of Hormuz 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi)
Iran's navy confirmed Saturday that it had sent members of a naval fleet through Egypt's Suez Canal and into the Mediterranean Sea, after Reuters quoted a canal source as saying the ships could be headed to Syria.
Admiral Habibollah Sayari told a "crowd of military leaders and naval personnel" that a group of Iranian ships belonging to Iran's 18th fleet had crossed the Canal for the "second time since the Islamic revolution," according to the Iran's official IRNA.
Ships from Iran's 18th fleet - which is comprised of a Khark supplier and Shahid Naqdi destroyers - had stopped in Jedda, Saudi Arabia earlier this month, according to Iran's state Press TV.
Two Iranian naval ships have sailed through Egypt's Suez Canal into the Mediterranean, in a move likely to be keenly watched by Israel.
"Two Iranian ships crossed through the Suez Canal (on Thursday) following permission from the Egyptian armed forces," a source in the canal authority said on Friday.
The destroyer and a supply ship could be on their way to the Syrian coast, the source added. Iran and Syria agreed to cooperate on naval training a year ago, and Tehran has no naval agreement with any other country in the region.
Two Iranian warships sailed along the strategic waterway on February 17 last year, in a move that Israel called a "provocation".
Egypt's military, which has a close defense ties with the United States, has been governing the country since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak a year ago.
The Suez Canal cuts through Egypt and allows shipping to pass from the Middle East to Europe and vice versa, without going around southern Africa.