Call for reinforcement of 'Aspides' operation guarding Red Sea vessels

Warship on the coast of the Red Sea
Warship on the coast of the Red Sea Copyright Ohad Zwigenberg/AP
Copyright Ohad Zwigenberg/AP
By Fay Doulgkeri with Euronews & AP
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The EU naval mission in the Red Sea was launched to protect merchant ships from attacks by Houthi rebels.


Reinforcement of the forces operating in the Red Sea region as part of the European operation "Aspides" (Greek for "Shield") is going to be requested from Brussels by the head of the operation, Rear Admiral Vasilios Gryparis.

The EU naval mission in the Red Sea was launched in February to protect merchant ships from attacks by Iran-aligned Houthi rebels as part of their declared campaign in solidarity with Hamas.

As Vice-Admiral Gryparis tells Euronews, the radius of operations envisaged by the mission is very large and cannot be covered with the existing means.

"At the moment we have seen a relative stabilization of the decline in the volume of ships passing through the area, we will need more time to have more valuable conclusions, but we think that since each ship can accompany a certain number of merchant ships, if the number of ships was larger we could accompany more ships and therefore we could hope for a recovery of shipping traffic through these straits".

The mission's four frigates from Greece, Germany, France and Italy, patrol a vast area stretching from the southern Red Sea to the north-western Indian Ocean. The area is almost twice the size of the European Union.

So far, 79 ships have been protected and none of them have been attacked. European forces have neutralized 9 drones, 1 unmanned surface vessel, as well as 4 ballistic missiles.

The new front that has opened in the Middle East, between Israel and Iran does not seem to affect the "Shields" operation up to now, but the situation is being closely monitored, says the Rear Admiral Gryparis.

The duration of the mission is one year. But then the conditions will be assessed, in order to decide if the mission needs to continue.

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