RIYADH: Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it has joined a US-led military coalition to secure the Middle East's key waterways for shipping.
The coalition, which includes Australia, Bahrain, and the UK, was set up to counter threats to vessels after a string of attacks against ships entering and leaving the Arabian Gulf.
Known as the International Maritime Security Construct, the coalition aims to protect commercial ships and provide safe navigation. Its area of operation covers the Strait of Hormuz, Bab Al-Mandab Strait, Sea of Oman and Arabian Gulf.
"The Kingdom's accession to this international alliance comes in support of regional and international efforts to deter and counter threats to maritime navigation and global trade," a statement on the Saudi Press Agency said.
The decision comes amid heightened tensions with Iran after a drone and missile attack at the weekend hit two key oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. The US blamed Iran for that attack and also a a number of attacks on shipping in or near the Strait of Hormus in recent months. Iran also seized a British flagged oil tanker in July that it has still not released.