China deploys six warships to Middle East as tensions in region boil amid fears Israel crisis could become all-out war | The Sun
SIX Chinese warships have been deployed to the Middle East as tensions boil over Israel, reports claim.
China's 44th naval escort task force has been involved in routine operations in the area, and spent several days on a visit to Oman last week.
The task force – from the People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theatre -left Muscat for an unspecified location on Saturday after taking part in a joint exercise with the Omani navy.
It includes the Zibo, a Type 052D guided-missile destroyer, the frigate Jingzhou and the integrated supply ship Qiandaohu – all stationed in the Middle East at a time of heightened tensions.
During the visit, Chinese commanders met Omani military officials and visited military institutions, while sailors from both countries toured each other’s shops.
They also organised a basketball game, according to state news agency Xinhua.
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The PLA task force has been involved in escort missions for shipping since arriving in the Gulf of Aden north of Somalia six months ago.
But it handed over its mission to the 45th escort task force earlier this month.
The new convoy, from the PLA’s Northern Theatre command, includes a Type 052 destroyer Urumqi, the frigate Linyi and a supply ship Dongpinghu.
On Thursday, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said a two-state solution to establish an independent Palestine is the “fundamental way out” of the Israel-Hamas war.
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“The top priority now is a ceasefire as soon as possible, to avoid the conflict from expanding or even spiraling out of control and causing a serious humanitarian crisis,” Xi was quoted as saying by China’s state-broadcaster CCTV.
It comes after the US has been sending off a powerful arsenal to the Middle East, as Israel's war against Hamas deepens.
The American military is increasing its firepower in the region, looking to prevent Iran and other Iran-backed groups from getting involved in the conflict.
The US empire of steel includes a network of bases in the Middle East with 2,000 troops, 2,400 Marines, and 13 warships now on alert.
A few A-10 Warthog and F-15E attack planes arrived in the region last week, with more advanced military aircraft expected to join.
The Pentagon is also rushing air defences and munitions to Israel, as well as an aircraft carrier monster fleet to the eastern Mediterranean, Reuters reports.
Another carrier is also set to be sent to the region in the coming days.
The United States has also told some 2,000 troops to be ready to deploy within 24 hours if notified – instead of the usual 96 hours – and could include units that provide assistance like medical aid if needed, a US official said on Monday.
Washington says the moves are meant as a deterrent, not a provocation.
On Friday, a US Navy warship fired what are believed to be America’s first shots in defence of Israel near the Red Sea coast of Yemen.
An official said the USS Carney shot down 15 drones and four cruise missiles fired by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in a nine-hour onslaught.
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It comes as every big gun is pointed towards Gaza, with the world holding its breath for Israel’s imminent invasion of its Hamas enemy’s stronghold.
And humanitarian aid has begun to flow into Gaza after the border crossing with Egypt was opened, providing a "lifeline" for those suffering in the enclave.
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