ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Iran sent two warships to the Gulf of Aden on Thursday, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported, establishing a military presence in waters off Yemen where the U.S. military launched cruise missile strikes on areas controlled by Iran-backed Houthi forces.
"Iran's Alvand and Bushehr warships have been dispatched to the Gulf of Aden to protect trade vessels from piracy," Tasnim reported.
The U.S. military strikes were in response to failed missile attacks this week on a U.S. Navy destroyer, U.S. officials said.
Iran's key regional rival Saudi Arabia accuses Tehran of providing support to the Houthis, a charge the Islamic Republic denies.
Tasnim said the Iranian ships will patrol the Gulf of Aden, south of Yemen, which is one of the world's most important shipping routes.
(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Toby Chopra)