Iran poses potential harm to US troops; military forces sent to the area

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WASHINGTON – Pentagon sends “very strong” message to Iran not to harm US troops in the Middle East after intelligence reports revealed increasing level of threats from Iranian paramilitary forces, said Monday a senior defense official.

The commander of the US Central Command, Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, made an urgent request to bolster US forces in the region after observing several intelligence flows indicating threats against US troops, according to the official who was not allowed to speak in public. The threats were beyond what is usually detected.

There are hundreds of American soldiers in Iraq and Syria, as well as in neighboring countries in the Middle East.

The USS Lincoln aircraft carrier task force and a group of bombers have been dispatched to send the message to Iran to leave US forces alone, the official said.

The Pentagon also announced Monday that it was strengthening its forces in the Middle East “to counter Iran’s destabilizing activities” and its “malicious behavior”.

Spokesman Charles Summers said the US military was ready to face Iranian provocations.

“However, the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force is seen as a prudent step in response to indications of increased Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations against US forces and our interests. “said Summers. “This ensures that we have the forces we need in the region to respond to contingencies and defend American forces and interests in the region. “

The announcement follows a statement released Sunday evening by John Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser. Bolton referred to “disturbing and escalating indications and warnings” from Iran as the reason for the deployment of the Lincoln and the bombers.

Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Tweeted Monday that Iran could not escape blame by sending proxy forces to attack US troops. Any attack, he said, would be blamed on Iran and General Qassem Soleimani, who heads the elite Quds force of Iranian paramilitary Revolutionary Guards.

“We will not distinguish between attacks by Shiite militias in #Irak and the #IRGC controlling them,” Rubio tweeted.

The Pentagon has a history of bad blood with Iranian forces in the region, particularly in Iraq. During the height of the fighting in Iraq, American commanders produced evidence of sophisticated explosives used to kill American troops. Known as blast-formed penetrators, the weapons required expertise and manufacturing that was not available to most militants in Iraq.

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