US mulling 14,000 more troops for Mideast: report
Washington (AFP) –
The United States is weighing sending up to 14,000 more troops to the Middle East in the face of a perceived threat from Iran, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
The mulled deployment would include "dozens" more ships and double the number of troops added to the US force in the region since the beginning of this year, the Journal said, citing unnamed US officials.
It said President Donald Trump could make a decision on the troop boost as early as this month.
A Pentagon spokesperson declined to comment on the report to AFP.
The move would come after a series of attacks on shipping vessels and a drone and missile attack on Saudi oil installations in September blamed on Iran.
Washington has already ratcheted up its military presence in the Gulf and expanded economic sanctions on the country, elevating tensions across the region.
In mid-November the US aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln sailed through the Strait of Hormuz in a show of force aimed at reassuring allies worried about the Iran threat.
In October Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced that two fighter squadrons and additional missile defense batteries were being sent to Saudi Arabia, for a total of about 3,000 new troops.
Earlier Wednesday Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the country is willing to return to the negotiating table over its nuclear program if the United States first drops sanctions, which have hampered the country's economy and may have contributed to recent domestic turmoil sparked by fuel price hikes.
© 2019 AFP