British troops are greasing up for a mission against an Iran-backed terrorist cell believed to be behind the attack on an Israeli-operated tanker last week, the Daily Mirror reported on Tuesday.
The latest attack in the Arabian Sea saw an Iranian proxy crash a large explosives-laden drone onto the bridge of the MV Mercer Street, sailing off the island of Masirah, where the Royal Navy has a logistics base.
A British security man and a Romanian crew member were killed in the strike, which sparked fears of regional escalation.
Israeli intelligence has provided the U.S. and U.K. with evidence linking Iran to the assault, which followed months of low-key maritime incidents between Israel and Iran.
The Islamic republic denied being behind the drone strike, threatening a “strong response” if it suffered any penalty for it.
Still, Washington and London have backed the Israeli claims, saying that they would coordinate their response to Tehran’s growing aggression.
The Daily Mirror has been told that British Special Air Service and Special Boat Service forces have already been deployed to the region “and have been reinforced for a strike mission,” including by electronic warfare specialists.
According to the report, it is believed the mission will focus on a “kill or capture manhunt.”
“This has reached a tipping point where Iran’s actions can no longer be allowed to continue,” the report cited a former British military intelligence officer.
“British special forces have been concerned about hostage-taking on the high seas for some time but are clearly going to take a more aggressive posture against Iran’s proxies.”
IDF Chief of Staff Maj. Gen.l Aviv Kochavi discussed the escalation with his British counterpart, Gen. Nick Carter, on Sunday.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Monday that Iran’s alleged attack on a merchant ship in the Arabian Sea was “a stepping-up of the escalation” of hostilities by Iran, and called for international action.
“This is exactly the reason why we must act now against Iran, which is not only striving toward nuclear arms, but is also bringing about a dangerous arms race and intends to destabilize the Middle East with terrorist militias who are armed with hundreds of drones in Iran, Yemen, Iraq and other countries in the region,” he said.
“Drones have also attacked oil factories in Saudi Arabia. The latest attack on the oil tanker MV Mercer Street, which left two dead in violation of international law, is a step forward for them.”