Two Iranian warships have now entered the Suez Canal on their way to Syria for training.

“They entered the canal at 0545 [0345 GMT],” said officials from the Suez Canal Authority on 22 February. Iran said in January that Iranian cadets would go on a year-long training mission through Suez and into the Mediterranean.

Egypt is only able to deny access to the waterway in times of war. It is the first times Iranian warships have made the passage since Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979.

The two warships are the 33,000-tonne refuelling and support vessel Kharg and the 1,500-tonne light patrol frigate Alvand. Kharg can carry up to three helicopters, while Alvand is armed with torpedoes and anti-ship missiles (MEED 20:2:11).

Israel has described the move as a provocation.