The United States announced on Friday the deployment of 1,500 troops to the Middle East, describing it as an effort to bolster defences against Iran as it accused the country’s Revolutionary Guards of direct responsibility for this month’s tanker attacks.
US President Donald Trump publicly announced the 1,500 figure and described it as a defensive measure. The troops include personnel manning missile defence systems, aerial surveillance to spot threats and engineers to fortify defences.
“We want to have protection in the Middle East. We’re going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective,” Mr Trump said as he left the White House for a trip to Japan.
The deployment marks a reversal of sorts for Mr Trump, who only on Thursday said he thought more troops were unnecessary. Mr Trump has sought to untangle the US military from open-ended conflicts in places like Syria and Afghanistan.