Pentagon: Iran Revolutionary Guard behind attacks on vessels off UAE

Trump to order additional forces to Middle East

Trump to order additional forces to Middle East

President Donald Trump has given his approval to Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan to deploy additional military resources to the Persian Gulf region to deter Iranian threats, according a senior U.S. official.

At a Pentagon news briefing on Friday, officials said the U.S. plans to send 900 more forces, including engineers and a fighter aircraft squadron, to the Middle East to bolster United States defence and extend the deployment of some 600 personnel manning Patriot missiles.

Earlier this week, officials said that Pentagon planners had outlined plans that could have sent up to 10,000 military reinforcements to the region.

The U.S. military deployed a carrier strike group, bombers and Patriot missiles to the Middle East earlier this month in response to what Washington said were troubling indications of possible preparations for an attack by Iran.

Acting defence secretary Patrick Shanahan later insisted a figure had not been settled on.

The administration notified Congress earlier in the day about the troop plans.

"The attack against the shipping in Fujairah [part of the UAE], we attribute it to the IRGC", he said on Friday, explaining that limpet mines used in the attacks had been linked directly to the IRGC.

The troops will be involved in protecting U.S. forces already based in the region and ensuring freedom of navigation, the notification said. "And I certainly don't think they want to fight with us", Trump said.

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The Trump administration is sending more troops and weapons to the Middle East amidst rising tensions with Iran.

Still, the Democratic lawmaker who heads the House Armed Services Committee, Adam Smith, said the deployment "appears to be a blatant and heavy-handed move to further escalate tensions with Iran".

A top USA official has accused Iran directly of attacking oil tankers. "We have a mission there in the Middle East: freedom of navigation, counterterrorism in Syria and Iraq, defeating al Qaeda in Yemen, and the security of Israel and Jordan".

US officials said the Iranian threat to USA forces continues even as Iran has pulled back some weapons systems.

In addition to the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers already announced, extra Patriot missile batteries will give the U.S. significant capabilities to counter any threat from the air, be that missiles or aircraft.

Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers a year ago and now is seeking to block all Iranian oil exports. Tim Kaine criticizing the "very bellicose tweets from the president" and warning that it would "be a colossal disaster if the United States were involved in Iran".

Critics of the administration's continued military deployments in recent weeks, as well as bellicose rhetoric from the president, fear the chances of miscalculation or misinterpretation have placed the US on a steady march to conflict with Iran.

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