The United States military says it has flown flew a pair of nuclear-capable B-52 long-distance bombers over the Middle East in a show of force, the latest such mission in the region as tensions remain high between Washington and Tehran.
The bombers took off from the Royal Air Force base at Fairford, England, and flew over the eastern Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula and the Red Sea on Sunday in training missions together with Kuwaiti and Saudi warplanes, before departing the region.
Although the US military’s Central Command did not mention Iran in its statement, Washington has frequently dispatched B-52 bombers to the region as hostilities simmered between the US and Iran. The last such flyover was in June.
Former President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from Tehran’s landmark nuclear deal with world powers sparked a series of escalating incidents in the region.
Even as diplomats wrangle over a possible revival of the nuclear accord, Iran’s navy seized two American sea drones in the Red Sea last week.
That capture came just days after the country’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard towed another sea drone before releasing it as an American warship trailed it.
The US Navy has been deploying ultra-endurance aerial surveillance drones to monitor threats in the crucial waterways, which have seen a series of maritime attacks.
Tensions also remain high after recent confrontations between US forces and Iranian-backed militias in the region. Washington last month carried out airstrikes in eastern Syria that targeted areas used by militias backed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, prompting a response from Iranian-backed fighters.