WASHINGTON - The Pentagon will send thousands more troops and two squadrons of fighter jets to Saudi Arabia as tensions increase with Iran.
The move follows an attack last month on oil production facilities in Saudi Arabia that Iran was "clearly responsible for," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Friday. Iran denied it had a role in the attacks, which an Iranian-backed proxy force claimed credit for.
The deployment adds to the 11,000 troops sent to the region since May in response to requests from U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East. Friday's announcement covers troops send to the region or whose deployments have been extended. In all, the Pentagon has added about 3,000 troops over the last month.
"As we have stated, the United States does not seek conflict with the Iranian regime, but we will retain a robust military capability in the region that is ready to respond to any crisis and will defend U.S. forces and interest in the region," chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.
Warning of war: Iranian official warns of 'all-out war' if US or Saudi Arabia attacks
The attack on Saudi Arabia damaged the Abqaiq oil processing plant and an oil field where about 5.7 million barrels of oil are produced each day. The attacks disrupted more than 5% of the world's daily supply.
In June, President Donald Trump called off airstrikes on Iran at the last moment after Iran had downed a U.S. Navy drone flying over the Persian Gulf.
In addition to the two fighter squadrons, the deployment announced Friday includes two Patriot counter-missile batteries and one Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system designed to destroy incoming missiles.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Pentagon: More troops, fighter jets to counter Iran in Saudi Arabia