|[Published: Thursday December 05 2019]
Pentagon denies sending more troops to Middle East
WASHINGTON 5 Dec (ANA) - The Pentagon has denied a report that the United States was weighing sending up to 14,000 more troops to the Middle East in the face of a perceived threat from Iran.
The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday reported the possible deployment would include "dozens" more ships and double the number of troops added to the US forces in the region since the beginning of this year, citing unnamed US officials.
The newspaper said US President Donald Trump could make a decision on the troop boost as early as this month.
But the Pentagon disputed the accuracy of the report.
"To be clear, the reporting is wrong. The US is not considering sending 14,000 additional troops to the Middle East," spokeswoman Alyssa Farah tweeted.
The deployment could double the number of U.S. military personnel who have been sent to the region since the start of a troop buildup in May.
The region has seen a series of attacks on shipping vessels and a drone and missile attack on Saudi oil installations in September, blamed on Iran.
Washington has already ratcheted up its military presence in the Gulf and expanded economic sanctions on Tehran, elevating tensions across the region.
In mid-November, the US aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln sailed through the Strait of Hormuz in a show of force aimed at reassuring allies worried about the Iran threat.
In October, defence chief Mark Esper announced that two fighter squadrons and additional missile defence batteries were being sent to Saudi Arabia, for a total of about 3,000 new troops.
A senior Pentagon official said on Wednesday there were indications Iran could potentially carry out aggressive actions in the future, amid simmering tensions between Tehran and Washington.
"We also continue to see indications, and for obvious reasons I won't go into the details, that potential Iranian aggression could occur," John Rood, the Pentagon's number three official, told reporters.
Rood did not provide details about what information he was basing that on, or any timeline.
"We've sent very clear and blunt signals to the Iranian government about the potential consequences of aggression," Rood said.
Two US officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said there was intelligence over the past month indicating that Iran was moving forces and weapons in the region.
It was not clear what specifically Iran was looking to do with the movements, they added.(ANA)
FA/ANA/5 December 2019------