U.S. to send 1,500 more troops to Middle East amid tensions with Iran

2019-05-25 10:48

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WASHINGTON, May 24 (Xinhua) -- The United States will send about 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East as a "protective measure" amid escalating tensions with Iran, U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday. The deployment is "relatively a small number of troops" and "we'll see what happens," Trump told reporters at the White House. U.S. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said later that the Pentagon has informed Congress about the new move. "This is a prudent response to credible threats from Iran," he tweeted. Pentagon officials revealed in a briefing on Friday afternoon that about 600 troops have already arrived in the region with the Patriot battery, a defense system designed to track and destroy incoming missiles, while the remaining 900 troops will be deployed to mainly operate intelligence surveillance radar and drones. In response, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said on Friday that the U.S. deployment of military forces to the region does not intimidate the country. "With hype and propaganda, the Americans attempt to stay relevant in public opinion," IRGC's spokesman Ramezan Sharif was quoted as saying by Press TV. Also on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in a statement that the Trump administration has invoked a seldom used provision in federal law to sidestep Congress and complete arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Jordan, citing "threats" from Iran. Twenty-two pending deals with a total value of approximately 8.1 billion U.S. dollars will bypass Congressional review after Pompeo's announcement, which has drawn severe objections from U.S. lawmakers. Washington and Tehran have been locked in a war of words over the past two weeks amid escalating tensions that had been stoked following America's military buildup in the Middle East. Iran has vowed to withstand the U.S. "bullying policies." Multiple incidents have occurred earlier this month in the region, further escalating the already volatile situation. On May 12, the UAE announced that four commercial vessels of various countries were targeted by sabotage near the country's territorial waters off the port of Fujairah. Saudi Arabia confirmed that two of its oil tankers were part of the sabotage attempt. One week later, a Katyusha rocket hit central Baghdad's Green Zone, without causing any casualties.
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