Oct 11, 2019 –
By Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States announced the deployment of additional American military forces to Saudi Arabia on Friday to bolster the kingdom’s defences after the Sept. 14 attack on its oil facilities, which Washington and Riyadh have blamed on Iran.
The large deployment, which was first reported by Reuters, includes fighter squadrons, an air expeditionary wing and air defence personnel, the Pentagon said. Together with the 200 forces to Saudi Arabia announced last month, the deployment totalled about 3,000 troops, it said.
U.S.-Iran tensions have risen to new highs since May 2018, when the Trump administration withdrew from a 2015 international nuclear accord with Tehran that put limits on its nuclear programme in exchange for the easing of sanctions.
As Trump reinstated U.S. sanctions, increasing pressure on the Iranian economy, there have been a series of attacks that Washington and close allies have blamed on Iran, including the attack on the world’s biggest crude oil-processing facility. Iran denies responsibility.
In a bid to better shield Saudi Arabia, the Pentagon said it was sending two additional Patriot batteries and one Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD).
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters the deployments were designed to deter Iran.
“We thought it was important to continue to deploy forces to deter and defend and to send the message to the Iranians: Do not strike another sovereign state, do not threaten American interests, American forces, or we will respond,” Esper told reporters during a press briefing.
Trump said the United States would not bear the expense of the deployment. “Saudi Arabia, at my request, has agreed to pay us for everything we’re doing,” he told reporters.