US Deploys Strike Group to Middle East after ‘Credible’ Iran Threat
The White House announced on Monday a decision to send the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and bombers to the Middle East to face Iran and its proxies in the region.
The decision was taken in response to the presence of “credible threat” by Iran, acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan tweeted on Monday.
The New York Times newspaper quoted three US officials citing new intelligence that Iran or its proxies were preparing to attack American troops in Iraq and Syria, leading the Pentagon to send an aircraft carrier strike group and Air Force bombers to the Persian Gulf as a warning to Tehran.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that his country “continued to see activity that leads us to believe that there’s escalation that may be taking place, and so we’re taking all the appropriate actions, both from a security perspective as well as our ability to make sure the president has a wide range of options in the event that something should actually take place.”
“We will hold the Iranians accountable for attacks on American interests, and the fact that that – those actions take place, if they do, by some third-party proxy, whether that’s a Shiite militia group or the Houthis or Hezbollah, we will hold the Iranians – Iranian leadership directly accountable for that,” he told the press during a flight to Finland.
A Pentagon statement also cited Monday the presence of Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations against US forces and interests in the region.
US officials told Reuters there were “multiple, credible threats” against US forces on land, including in Iraq, by Iran and proxy forces and at sea.
National Security Advisor Ambassador John Bolton said in a statement released on Sunday night that the US is deploying the Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on US interests or on those of Washington’s allies will be met with unrelenting force.
In early April, Washington has designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group.
Several observers linked the US military move to Iran’s recent threats of closing the strategic Strait of Hormuz, in response to the US decision to end sanction waivers on Iranian oil imports.