23 July 2019
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U.S. Officials Raise Alarm of Iranian Threat Targeting American Troops in Iraq

Monday, 06 May 2019 19:40
The aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln seen sailing last month in the Mediterranean Sea off Spain. It has been rerouted to the Persian Gulf.CreditCreditJason Waite/U.S. Navy, via Reuters The aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln seen sailing last month in the Mediterranean Sea off Spain. It has been rerouted to the Persian Gulf.CreditCreditJason Waite/U.S. Navy, via Reuters

WASHINGTON — Senior American officials said on Monday that new threats by Iran against United States troops in Iraq were behind the sudden deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group and Air Force bombers to the Persian Gulf.

The White House and Pentagon made the decision after seeing intelligence that showed new activity on the part of Iranian-aligned forces since Friday, said two senior officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Additionally, one official noted new concerns in waterways where Iranian maritime forces operate.

The officials would not provide specific details about the threat posed by Iranian forces or Iraqi Shiite militias with ties to Tehran’s military. Col. Scott Rawlinson, a spokesman for the American-led military coalition in Iraq, declined to comment.

The new movement of American military forces was announced by John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, on Sunday night.

The deployment of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln was intended “to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force,” Mr. Bolton said in a statement.

He added that “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 Guards Corps or regular Iranian forces.”

Earlier this year, President Trump notably backed up assertions by Mr. Bolton that the 5,200 American troops currently in Iraq should stay there to “watch Iran.” Iraqi leaders quickly pushed back, saying they feared that the United States was trying to use its troop presence in Iraq to further its own goals of isolating Iran.

Mr. Trump at the time harkened back to his brief visit in December to see American troops at Al-Asad base in western Iraq and suggested that United States forces there could be used to carry out surveillance on Iran.

The new assertion that Iran or its proxies are planning attacks on American troops in Iraq is bound to spark more questions from Iraqi political leaders about whether the Trump administration is trying to use its military presence to further its agenda against Tehran.

Source: The New York Times

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