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Pentagon chief briefs Trump as administration weighs Iran response

Pentagon chief briefs Trump as administration weighs Iran response
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Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperBiden plans to keep Wray as FBI director: report ISIS Task Force director resigns from Pentagon post in continued post-election purge The perils of a US troop drawdown to the Afghan army and tribes MORE on Monday briefed President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal watchdog accuses VOA parent company of wrongdoing under Trump appointee Lawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list Ivanka Trump gives deposition in lawsuit alleging misuse of inauguration funds MORE about the recent attacks on Saudi oil facilities, which the U.S. has blamed on Iran, raising the possibility of a retaliatory strike.

Esper, in the Pentagon’s first public statement on the Saturday attacks, said on twitter that he just returned to the building “from a meeting at the White House where [Department of Defense] DoD leadership and others briefed the Commander in Chief on the situation."

"The United States military, with our interagency team, is working with our partners to address this unprecedented attack and defend the international rules-based order that is being undermined by Iran,” he said.

Esper also noted that over the weekend he spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman as well as Iraqi Minister of Defense Najah al-Shammari about the incident. 

Trump in the wake of the attacks on two Saudi oil sites has hinted at the potential for military action against Tehran. 

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On Monday he referred to Iran’s role in shooting down a U.S. military drone in June, and a day earlier had tweeted that the U.S. was “locked and loaded” but was waiting on Saudi Arabia to verify who was responsible for the attack.

Trump did not explicitly blame Iran for the drone strike on the oil facilities — which shut down roughly 5 percent of the global oil supply and sent prices skyrocketing — but said the U.S. has “reason to believe that we know the culprit.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, has blamed Tehran for what he described as an “unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply,” disputing the presence of evidence suggesting the attacks came from Yemen.

Iran has denied involvement in the attacks, while Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility and threatened further strikes in Saudi Arabia.