US blames Iran and its proxies for the recent tanker bombings near UAE economic waters and a rocket attack in Iraq, a senior Pentagon officer said on Friday May 24th.
Vice Admiral Michael Gilday says the US has a high degree of confidence that Iran's Revolutionary Guard was responsible for the explosions on four tankers, and that Iranian proxies in Iraq fired rockets into Baghdad, AP has reported.
Gilday, the Joint Staff director, says the latest decision to send 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East will boost surveillance of Iranian forces and their proxies. The additional forces will include more manned and unmanned aircraft, a squadron of fighter jets, a Patriot missile battalion and military engineers.
He did not provide direct evidence to back up claims tying Iran to the attacks. He told reporters the conclusions were based on intelligence and evidence gathered in the region.
President Donald Trump says the US will bolster its military presence in the Middle East with an additional 1,500 troops. He says the troops will have a "mostly protective" role. He spoke to reporters on the White House lawn as he headed out on a trip to Japan. The US began reinforcing its presence in the Arabian Gulf region this month in response to what it said was a threat from Iran.
The administration had notified Congress earlier Friday about the troop plans.
According to The Associated Press, the forces would number "roughly" 1,500 and would deploy in the coming weeks, "with their primary responsibilities and activities being defensive in nature."
US officials say the Trump administration has notified Congress it plans to send 1,500 troops to the Middle East amid heightened tensions with Iran.
Earlier this week, officials had said that Pentagon planners had outlined plans that could have sent up to 10,000 military reinforcements to the region. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan later said planners hadn't settled on a figure.