NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has urged Iran “to rein in its proxies”, as groups across the region continue to raise tensions in the wake of the Gaza war.
Citing the alliance between Iran, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas, Stoltenberg expressed deep concern regarding recent drone attacks targeting ships, US forces, and assaults on commercial vessels in the region. He stressed the critical importance of Iran preventing the conflict from escalating into a full-scale regional war.
It comes on the back of the war in Gaza which began on October 7 when Hamas invaded Israel, murdering 1,200 mostly civilians and taking 240 or more hostage in the most deadly single day since the Holocaust.
In a press conference on Monday, Stoltenberg supported extending the four-day truce between Israel and Hamas, emphasizing the necessity of getting aid into the besieged strip and supporting the release of additional hostages. On Monday night, two more days were agreed by both sides.
Proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq have all been activated since the war broke out. Beyond missile and drone attacks, recent weeks have also witnessed Houthi rebels in Yemen attempting attacks on Israeli ships.
Over 60 attacks on US facilities in Syria and Iraq have also taken place since the war as Iran's shadow war steps up its pace.
On Sunday, Houthi rebels, supported by the Islamic Republic, made a seizure attempt on the Liberian-flagged oil tanker Central Park, managed by Zodiac Maritime, in the Gulf of Aden. The Yemeni government, recognized by the United Nations, accused the Houthis of orchestrating the hijacking.
The US military's Central Command released a statement on Monday, confirming that its forces, including the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Mason, responded promptly to the tanker seizure. The statement highlighted that missiles launched by the Houthis landed approximately 10 nautical miles from the ships, resulting in no reported damage or injuries during the incident.