US President Donald Trump has approved the deployment of American troops to bolster Saudi Arabia’s air defences after the biggest-ever attack on the kingdom’s oil facilities, which Washington has squarely blamed on Iran.
The Pentagon said the deployment, approved on Friday (local time), was “in response to the kingdom’s request” and would be primarily defensive in nature, involving a moderate number of US military personnel. Officials said the US deployment would likely be in the hundreds and the defensive equipment heading to the Middle East would probably include Patriot missile batteries and possibly enhanced radars.
A new agency has previously reported that the Pentagon was considering sending anti-missile batteries, drones and more fighter jets. The United States is also considering keeping an aircraft carrier in the region indefinitely.
“In response to the kingdom’s request, the President has approved the deployment of US forces, which will be defensive in nature and primarily focused on air and missile defence,” US Defence Secretary Mark Esper said at a news briefing. “We will also work to accelerate the delivery of military equipment to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to enhance their ability to defend themselves.”
Esper added that the United Arab Emirates, a close ally that hosts US forces, had also requested assistance. The Pentagon’s late Friday announcement appeared to close the door to any imminent decision to wage retaliatory strikes against Iran following the attack, which rattled global markets and exposed major gaps in Saudi Arabia’s air defences.
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