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The U.S. military flew two nuclear-capable B-52H Stratofortresses over the Middle East along with allied aircraft of the United Kingdom, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia air forces, United States Central Command (CENTCOM) said.

It is the fourth mission of the bomber task force (BTF) so far this year and comes amid mounting tensions with Iran, which attempted to seize more US marine drones that were operating in international waters last week.

During Sunday’s mission, the B-52 long-range bombers took off from England and flew over the eastern Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula and the Red Sea.

“This bomber task force is a strong and clear representation of the United States’ enduring commitment to the region,” Lieutenant General Alexus Grynkewich, 9th Air Force Commander, said in a statement.

“Threats to the United States and our partners will not go unanswered. Missions like this BTF show our ability to join forces to discourage and, if necessary, defeat our adversaries.”

While fighters from the UK, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia escorted the B-52 bombers overhead, the Central Army forces simulated ground firepower.

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Washington has been negotiating with Iran for 16 months to try to revive the defunct Iranian nuclear deal.

Former Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, center, listens to the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi, left, as he visits an exhibition of Iran’s new nuclear achievements in Tehran, Iran, in ‘April 2021.
(Office of the Iranian Presidency / AP)

Iran filed a response to the US proposal to resurrect the deal last month, but a State Department spokesperson said it was “not constructive.”

While Iran has denied it wants to build a nuclear bomb, the country now has about 3,800 kilograms of uranium enriched up to 60 percent purity, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Under the previous terms of the nuclear deal, Iran could only have 300 kilograms of uranium enriched up to 3.67%.

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An Iranian ship seized an American maritime drone in the Persian Gulf on Monday, but the Navy’s coastal ship USS Thunderbolt and an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter were sent to stop the hijacking.

Then last Thursday, an Iranian warship hijacked and arrested two US marine drones, but the US 5th Fleet again sent two destroyers and a helicopter to deter them.

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