British warship HMS Kent set sail for the Gulf Monday to join a US-led mission protecting commercial shipping vessels in the region amid heightened political tension between the West and Iran.
Britain has joined the United States in a maritime security mission in the Gulf to protect merchant vessels.
That comes after Iran seized a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. On July 4 British marines seized an Iranian vessel, which is allegedly carrying oil to Syria, off the coast of Gibraltar.
"Our focus in the Gulf remains firmly one of de-escalating the current tensions," said Andy Brown, the ship's commanding officer.
"But we are committed to upholding freedom of navigation and reassuring international shipping, which this deployment on operations aims to do.”
The deployment was first announced last month and will see the Kent relieve another British ship, the Duncan, already working in the region.
Iraq rejects any Israeli participation in a naval force to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, AFP quoted Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali al-Hakim saying in Baghdad Monday.
Israel has made no official announcement on the operation, although Israeli media have reported a possible role for the Jewish state.
Iraq "rejects any participation of forces of the Zionist entity in any military force to secure passage of ships in the Arabian Gulf," Hakim said on Twitter.
"Together, the Gulf states can secure the passage of ships," he said.
On Thursday, Iran's Defence Minister Amir Hatami said the formation of a US-led flotilla in the Gulf would "increase insecurity" and any Israeli involvement could have "disastrous consequences" for the region.
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