Trump dismisses report of plan to send troops to Middle East as ally questions Iran threat




 

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Tuesday dismissed a report that his administration is planning to send 120,000 troops to the Middle East to deal with Iran, but then threatened to send far more troops if needed.

"Would I do that? Absolutely," Trump told reporters gathered Tuesday when asked about a New York Times report that his administration was considering a military build-up. "But we have not planned for that."

Hours later, a top official in the U.S.-led effort to defeat ISIS disputed assessments that the threat posed by Iran had increased.

British Maj. Gen. Christopher Ghika, the No. 2 officer in Operation Inherent Resolve, told Pentagon reporters the threat was, in fact, not higher. His comments were at odds with U.S. officials, who justified the deployment of B-52 bombers and warships on the alleged higher threat.

Navy Capt. Bill Ubran, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said in a statement that Ghrika was wrong. Ubran said the remarks "run counter to the identified credible threats available to intelligence from U.S. and allies regarding Iranian-backed forces in the region." The statement was remarkable for refuting a top commander in the region who has the latest intelligence at his disposal.

The dispute came amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran. The Trump administration has warned ships that "Iran or its proxies" could be targeting maritime traffic in the region. And the Pentagon is deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged threats from Tehran.

Seconds after disputing the New York Times report on troops planning, Trump increased his threats on Tehran, suggesting if the administration does send service members to the region "we'd send a hell of lot more troops than that."

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented a military plan to White House officials that calls for sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack American forces or speed up nuclear weapon development, the New York Times reported on Monday.

Pompeo and Putin: Pompeo to meet with Russian President Putin amid heightened tensions over Iran, Venezuela

'Dangerous game': Iran says Trump playing 'very dangerous game' and risking 'devastating war'

Trump's remarks, made as the president was leaving for a trip to Louisiana to discuss U.S. energy policy, came a day after he threatened Iran with a "bad problem" following news that Saudi Arabian oil tankers were sabotaged near the Persian Gulf.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to comment on the New York Times story.

"We fundamentally do not see a war with Iran," Pompeo said when asked about the report during a joint news conference in Sochi with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. He said the U.S. wants Iran to stop funding terrorist groups and to "behave like a normal country."

Lavrov said he hoped the report was "just a rumor" and expressed fear that tensions could spark a military confrontation.

"This region is so tense with different conflicts and different situations," Lavrov said, adding that he told Pompeo he hopes they can find a "political solution" to the Iran situation so it does not "tip over to the military scenario."

'We're courting danger':Trump suffers foreign policy setbacks in Iran, North Korea

Saudi Arabia said Monday two of its oil tankers were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in attacks that caused "significant damage" to the vessels, one of them as it was en route to pick up Saudi oil to take to the United States.

A Pentagon spokesman remained non-committal.

"As a matter of long-standing policy, we are not going to discuss or speculate on potential or alleged future operations or plans," said Air Force Col. Pat Ryder, a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Contributing: Deirdre Shesgreen

Like what you're reading? Download the USA TODAY app for more

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump dismisses report of plan to send troops to Middle East as ally questions Iran threat

COMMENTS

More Related News

U.S. sues ex-Trump aide Omarosa, alleges failure to file required financials
U.S. sues ex-Trump aide Omarosa, alleges failure to file required financials

The government is seeking a civil fine of up to $50,000 from Omarosa, who spent 11 months as director of communications in the White House Office of Public Liaison before her December 2017 dismissal. Omarosa, as she is typically known, was accused of violating the Ethics in Government Act by not filing the report, which was required because her salary exceeded $124,406, despite several oral and written reminders from White House ethics lawyers.

Trump appears to name the wrong Iranian leader when announcing sanctions on Iran
Trump appears to name the wrong Iranian leader when announcing sanctions on Iran

The Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was Iran's Supreme Leader from 1979 to 1989. He died in 1989 and was succeeded by the current Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei.

President Trump imposes new sanctions on Iran as regime accuses US of 'economic' terrorism
President Trump imposes new sanctions on Iran as regime accuses US of 'economic' terrorism

The new sanctions were aimed at retaliating against Iran for shooting down a U.S. drone last week.

US Fed like a
US Fed like a 'stubborn child': Trump

US President Donald Trump on Monday renewed his attacks on the Federal Reserve, saying the central bank's reluctance to cut interest rates was standing in the way of blowout economic expansion. "Despite a Federal Reserve that doesn't know what it is doing... we are on course to have one

House Oversight threatens to subpoena Kellyanne Conway
House Oversight threatens to subpoena Kellyanne Conway

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has cited Conway for multiple violations of the Hatch Act.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.