As tensions have escalated between Greece and Turkey over the latter’s gas claims in the eastern Mediterranean, France has send the La Tonnerre amphibious assault ship and the frigate La Fayette to the area is a show of support for Greek forces whose navy is already monitoring Turkish activities. Two fighter jets have been temporarily stationed at a Greek airfield on Crete.

While all three countries are NATO members, Paris said it had made the deployment in order to mark “its desire to ensure compliance with the international law.”

The situation worsened earlier in the week after Ankara deployed an underwater exploration vessel, escorted by military vessels, in the southeastern Aegean Sea. This remains a disputed area rich in gas fields.

Relations between France and Turkey are strained because they are backing opposing forces in the conflict in Libya.

Meanwhile, US Department of Defence spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told a Washington press briefing that France and Turkey are “both extremely important allies of NATO and we would like to see tensions decrease.

“So we would like them to continue to cooperate and find solutions that do not involve the need to have warships or planes deployed in a less than cooperative environment,” he said.

La Tonnerre