US to send 1K additional troops to Middle East amid Iran tensions

US to send 1K additional troops to Middle East amid Iran tensions
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The Trump administration is sending an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East as tensions between the U.S. and Iran grow.

The decision was announced in a statement by acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanThiel calls for federal investigation of Google Overnight Defense: House approves 3 billion defense bill | Liberal sweeteners draw progressive votes | Bill includes measure blocking Trump from military action on Iran Senators urge Trump to sanction Turkey for accepting Russian missile shipment MORE, who said troops would be used for defensive purposes.

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"The United States does not seek conflict with Iran," Shanahan said. "The action today is being taken to ensure the safety and welfare of our military personnel working throughout the region and to protect our national interests."

"We will continue to monitor the situation diligently and make adjustments to force levels as necessary given intelligence reporting and credible threats," he added.

The announcement comes amid increasing friction between the U.S. and Iran following an attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week.

The U.S. has blamed Iran for the attack and produced images it claims show Iranians removing a mine from the ship’s hull, but the nation has strongly denied responsibility for the attack.

The U.K. and Saudi Arabia have backed the U.S. on blaming Iran for the incident, but Germany’s foreign minister has said more compelling evidence is needed, and the owner of one of the ships, the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, has contradicted the U.S.'s account of the attack.

Shanahan said the troops were being sent following a request from U.S. Central Command and "with the advice of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and in consultation with the White House" to address "air, naval, and ground-based threats in the Middle East."