Ramping Up Tensions With Iran, US Deploys More Troops

President Donald Trump speaks Friday to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington before boarding Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., and then on to Tokyo. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (CN) – President Donald Trump said Friday the United States will send roughly 1,500 troops to the Middle East, amid growing tensions between the U.S. and Iran. 

Trump made the comments at the White House this afternoon after reports earlier in the day indicating the administration was planning new deployments to the region. Trump said the new troops would have  a “mostly protective” role.

“Some very talented people are going to the Middle East right now and we’ll see what happens,” Trump told reporters at the White House.  

Tensions between the United States and Iran have ramped up recently, with heated comments from leaders of both countries. 

Earlier this month, the United States sent a carrier group into the region after saying it had received a “specific and credible” threat that Iran and groups with ties to the country were planning on targeting U.S. troops in the region.

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan on Friday referenced the threats in a tweet saying the Department of Defense had notified Congress of the administration’s plan to send new troops to the region. 

“This is a prudent response to credible threats from Iran,” Shanahan tweeted Friday. 

A Pentagon spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment on the deployment.

National Security Adviser John Bolton said the carrier group was going to the region “in response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings.”

“The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces,” Bolton said in a statement May 5. 

The additional troop deployment comes at the end of a week that began with Trump tweeting out a threat to Iran.

“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran,” Trump tweeted Sunday. “Never threaten the United States again.” 

Democrats have accused Republicans of misstating the intelligence the U.S. has received about Iran.

“I’m listening to Republicans twist the Iran intel to make it sound like Iran is taking unprovoked, offensive measures against the U.S. and our allies,” Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn., tweeted Monday. “Like it just came out of nowhere. I’ve read the intel too. And let me be clear – that’s not what the intel says.”

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