US Marine observes Iran fast attack craft in Strait of Hormuz
US Marine observes Iran fast attack craft in Strait of HormuzReuters

The US military will work to bolster the defensive posture in the Gulf region following Iran's seizure and harassment of commercial shipping vessels in recent months, US officials said on Friday, according to the Reuters news agency.

In the past two years, Iran has harassed, attacked or interfered with the navigational rights of 15 internationally flagged commercial vessels, officials said.

Most recently, Iran seized the Marshall Islands-flagged Advantage Sweet on April 27 as it traveled in the Gulf of Oman. Six days later, it seized a second ship, the Niovi, a Panama-flagged tanker as it left a dry dock in Dubai.

"The Department of Defense will be making a series of moves to bolster our defensive posture in the Arabian Gulf," White House spokesperson John Kirby told a news briefing on Friday, according to Reuters.

Kirby added that in the coming weeks there would be an attempt to "increase coordination and interoperability" with allies in the Strait of Hormuz.

The US Navy's Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet said it was working with regional allies to increase the rotation of ships and aircraft patrolling around the Strait of Hormuz.

"Iran's unwarranted, irresponsible and unlawful seizure and harassment of merchant vessels must stop," the Fifth Fleet's commander, Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, said in a statement quoted by Reuters.

The Strait of Hormuz, a crucial waterway for global energy supplies, has often been a site of tense encounters between Americans and Iranian forces.

In early December, an Iranian patrol boat tried to temporarily blind US Navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz by shining a spotlight toward the vessels and crossing within 150 yards of them.

Last August, an Iranian ship seized an American military unmanned research vessel in the Gulf but released it after a US Navy patrol boat and helicopter were deployed to the location.

Iran recently said it had "forced" a US submarine to surface as it was crossing the Strait of Hormuz.

The Islamic Republic has threatened more than once to close the Strait of Hormuz, with the United States warning Iran in response that any attempt to close the strait would be viewed as a "red line" -- grounds for US military action.

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)