US President Donald Trump announced on Friday that some 1,500 additional US troops would deploy to the Middle East against a backdrop of soaring tensions with Iran. “We want to have protection in the Middle East,” Trump told reporters as he prepared to set off on a trip to Japan.
“We’re going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective,” Trump added. “It’ll be about 1,500 people.”
The deployment includes reconnaissance aircraft, fighter jets, engineers, and the extension of the presence of a Patriot missile defense battalion that accounts for 600 of the personnel.
“This is a prudent response to credible threats from Iran,” said Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
Pentagon officials said the 1,500 additional troops were in response to recent incidents in the region that US intelligence had tied to Iran’s leadership.
Trump had threatened to meet provocations by Iran with “great force". The president however said that he’s also willing to negotiate with the Islamic Republic. He says, “If they do something it will be met great force.” But he adds, “We have no indication that they will.” Still, he is not mincing his words, calling Iran “hostile” and the “No. 1 provocateur of terror.”
Earlier, Donald Trump had said if the Islamic republic attacks American interests, it will be destroyed. “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again,” Trump said in a tweet. Tensions between US and Iran escalated after the US deployed a carrier group and B-52 bombers to the Gulf over what it termed Iranian “threats.”
Tensions rose dramatically May 5, when Bolton announced that the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group would be rushed from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf ahead of schedule in response to "a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings," without going into details.
Since then, four oil tankers, including two belonging to Saudi Arabia, were targeted in an apparent act of sabotage off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, according to officials in the region, and a Saudi pipeline was attacked by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels from Yemen.