US and allies to escort tankers in Gulf amid 'Iran attacks'

The US and its allies are discussing plans to provide naval escorts for oil tankers through the Gulf, a top American general said Thursday after Iranian military vessels menaced a British tanker.

Tensions in the area - through which nearly a third of the world's oil is transported - have spiked in recent weeks, with the US blaming Iran for multiple attacks on tanker ships in the region, and Tehran shooting down an American drone.

General Mark Milley, nominated to become the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate hearing that the US has a "crucial role" in enforcing freedom of navigation in the Gulf.

He said the US was attempting to put together a coalition "in terms of providing military escort, naval escort to commercial shipping", he said.

"I think that that will be developing over the next couple weeks."

The UK said earlier on Thursday that armed Iranian boats tried to "impede" a supertanker in the Gulf before being warned off by a British warship.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards denied involvement but also cautioned both the US and UK that they would "strongly regret" the UK Royal Marines' detention of the Grace 1.

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Special thanks to Kathryn Meirer!!