U.S. Sends 1,500 Troops to Mideast After Blaming Attacks on Iran
Added 05-25-19 08:11:02am EST - “The U.S. will bolster forces in the region by about 1,500 troops, though Trump and the Pentagon said that the deployment is for defensive purposes with a focus on missile defense, surveillance and keeping open shipping lanes in the…” - News.yahoo.com
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(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump ordered more troops to the Middle East as the Pentagon blamed Tehran for recent attacks in the region, yet the small scale of the U.S. move signaled a desire to avoid a further escalation of tensions between the two nations.
The U.S. will bolster forces in the region by about 1,500 troops, though Trump and the Pentagon said that the deployment is for defensive purposes with a focus on missile defense, surveillance and keeping open shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf. About 600 of the troops are already in the region, meaning fewer than 1,000 new service members will deploy.
“We’re going to be sending a relatively small number of troops to the Middle East,” Trump said as he departed the White House on Friday for Japan. The troops will serve “mostly in a protective capacity,” Trump said, adding, “We’ll see what happens.”
After tensions between Iran and Washington spiked earlier this month, Trump’s comments and the size of the deployment suggest the administration wants to avoid fueling fears of another Middle East war. At the same time, Pentagon officials said they believe Iran is behind a spate of recent attacks on oil tankers, a Saudi oil pipeline and the “Green Zone” diplomatic compound in Baghdad.
“We believe with a high degree of confidence that this stems back to the leadership of Iran at the highest levels,” U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Michael Gilday, director of the Defense Department’s Joint Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon on Friday. All of the attacks “have been attributed to Iran, through their proxies” or other forces, Gilday said. It was the first time the U.S. publicly charged Iran with being behind the attacks, though Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen had claimed responsibility for the pipeline attack.
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