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U.S. Will Send 1,000 Troops To Mideast As Tensions Continue To Rise

The Pentagon will send 1,000 additional U.S. troops to the Middle East on request from the Central Command for additional forces, Newsweek reports, citing a statement by the acting Secretary of Defense.

"The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region," the acting Secretary, Patrick Shanahan said. "The United States does not seek conflict with Iran. 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."

Meanwhile, the AP reports, the Pentagon also released a number of images that it says shows members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded mine from the side of one of the tankers that were attacked last week in the Gulf of Oman.

Hours after the attacks, the U.S. released video footage that it said proved Iran was responsible for explosions. U.S. Central Command spokesman Bill Urban late on Thursday released a video saying the footage showed a patrol boat of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard approaching one of the tankers where it “was observed and recorded removing (an) unexploded limpet mine from the M/T Kokuka Courageous.”

Tehran has denied the allegations, calling them “unfounded”, with one senior government official telling the BBC that Iran had no connection to the explosions that pushed crude oil prices up by about US$3 per barrel.

In a somewhat surprising turn of events yesterday, President Trump called the tanker attacks “very minor”. In an interview with Time magazine, Trump said “So far, it’s been very minor,” referring to the effect of the two recent attacks on tankers in the Middle East, both of which the Pentagon has blamed on Iran. However, the President said he would order military action against Iran if it tried to build a nuclear weapon.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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