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President Donald Trump on Friday approved a deployment of 1,500 U.S. troops to the Middle East, and the Pentagon is expected to make a formal announcement later in the day.
Officials on Friday said that the White House notified Congress of the administration’s decision following a Thursday meeting with national security officials who met with Trump to discuss proposals from the Pentagon, according to multiple reports.
Tensions with Iran have heightened, and while Trump has said he doesn’t want to go to war with Iran, he has a military option to send U.S. troops there.
RT reported Friday that the deployment was for “mostly protective” purposes amid the growing tensions.
BREAKING: #Trump says sending 1500 troops to Middle East for ‘mostly protective’ purposeshttps://t.co/6LEtVNrkbJ pic.twitter.com/oIZ6aUn7vO
— RT (@RT_com) May 24, 2019
It had been reported last week that as many as 120,000 U.S. troops could be sent to the Middle East if Iran were to wage an attack on American forces, according to an updated military plan outlined to President Trump.
The U.S. earlier this month sent the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the U.S. Central Command region in direct response to Iran’s escalating behavior and threats.
The next day, four B-52 bombers were deployed to the Middle East in preparation for potential attacks that have been threatened by Iran or its allies on U.S. troops.
Its behavior indicates that Iran is clearly not pleased with such actions, which also include removing waivers that would permit U.S. allies to bypass sanctions and export Iranian oil, as well as the official designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization.
Tensions with Iran escalated quickly, as Iran recently designated all U.S. troops in the Middle East to be “terrorists,” and last week Iran threatened to attack Israel should U.S. combat troops newly deployed to the region make a move.
Iran has also been difficult when it comes to abiding by the 2015 nuclear accord, which the U.S. left more than a year ago. It has recently made threats to resume high-level uranium enrichment most likely in order to try and develop nuclear weapons unless Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia do not protect Iran from U.S. sanctions.
Iran did the same last summer, threatening to resume high-level uranium enrichment if the European countries allow the nuclear deal to fall apart.
This past December, Trump Administration officials said the President was considering plans to withdraw half of the 14,000 U.S. personnel deployed to Afghanistan over the next few months. The report came the day after Trump announced plans to officially withdraw some 2,000 troops from Syria. It was later reported that the U.S. was pulling 1,000 troops from Afghanistan for “efficiency.”