WASHINGTON: The Pentagon is contemplating sending several thousand extra troops to the Middle East to assist deter Iranian aggression, amid studies of escalating violence in Iran and continued meddling by Tehran in Iraq, Syria and different elements of the area.
John Rood, protection undersecretary for coverage, informed senators Thursday that Protection Secretary Mark Esper “intends to make changes” to the quantity of troops deployed within the area. Different officers mentioned choices into account may ship between 5,000 and seven,000 troops to the Middle East, however all of them pressured that there have been no ultimate selections but. The officers spoke on situation of anonymity to focus on inner deliberations.
The troop deliberations comply with several selections since spring to beef up the US presence within the Middle East as a result of of a sequence of maritime assaults and bombings in Saudi Arabia that the US and others have blamed on Iran.
President Donald Trump has permitted these will increase, regardless that he additionally routinely insists that he’s pulling US troops out of the Middle East and withdrawing from what he calls “endless wars” towards extremists. In October, Trump informed his supporters that regardless of the sacrificing of US lives in Iraq and different elements of the Middle East, the area is much less secure and secure as we speak. “The single greatest mistake our country made in its history,” he mentioned, “was going into the quicksand of the Middle East.”
Requested a few doable troop enhance, Trump informed reporters Thursday: “We’ll announce whether we will or not. Certainly there might be a threat. And if there is a threat, it will be met very strongly. But we will be announcing what we may be doing may or may not be doing.”
Later Thursday, Trump’s nationwide safety adviser Robert O’Brien mentioned the president was open to sending more troops to the Middle East. “If the troops are needed to deter Iran, we have the capacity to move them into the region although I don’t think that’s happening right now,” O’Brien mentioned on Fox Information Channel’s “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
Navy leaders have argued that the US wants to enhance its presence within the area so as to deter Iran from conducting more and broader assaults. Rood supplied no particulars to again up why the extra troops are wanted, however mentioned the US is worried about latest intelligence indications suggesting an elevated risk from Iran.
Rood was requested several instances about studies that 14,000 more troops might be despatched to the area. He repeatedly mentioned Esper hasn’t decided but, however did not particularly verify or deny the quantity, so his solutions appeared solely to confuse senators. Shortly after the listening to, Pentagon press secretary Alyssa Farah despatched out a press release flatly denying the 14,000 quantity, saying Esper informed the Senate committee chairman Thursday morning that “we are not considering sending 14,000 additional troops” to the area.
The troop discussions got here because the Trump administration on Thursday accused Iranian safety forces of killing more than 1,000 individuals in crackdowns towards latest protests which have swept the nation.
The estimated dying toll is considerably increased than beforehand estimates from human rights teams and others, and the administration didn’t current documentary proof to again up the declare. However Brian Hook, the US particular consultant for Iran, informed reporters the tally was primarily based on a spread of studies popping out of Iran in addition to intelligence analyses.
Talking on the State Division, Hook mentioned the US had acquired and reviewed video of one particular incident of repression within the metropolis of Mahshahr wherein the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps had mowed down at the very least 100 protesters with machine-gun fireplace.
He mentioned the video was one of tens of hundreds of submissions the US has gotten since Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appealed final month for Iranians to submit proof of atrocities by the authorities in placing down the protests. In it, he mentioned IRGC forces may be seen opening fireplace on protesters blocking a highway after which surrounding those that fled to close by marshlands the place they had been sprayed with bullets.
“In this one incident alone the regime murdered as many as 100 Iranians and possibly more,” Hook informed reporters on the State Division. He didn’t show the video however mentioned the actions it depicted corresponded to accounts of a brutal nationwide crackdown on the demonstrations, which began in response to gasoline worth will increase and rationing.
“We have seen reports of many hundreds more killed in and around Tehran,” he mentioned. “And, as the truth is trickling out of Iran, it appears the regime could have murdered over 1,000 Iranian citizens since the protests began.” The lifeless embrace 13- and 14-year-previous youngsters, he mentioned.
Talking on the White Home, Trump mentioned Iran had “killed hundreds and hundreds of people in a very short period of time” and referred to as for worldwide strain to be utilized. “They are killing protesters. They turned off their internet system. People aren’t hearing what’s going on,” he informed reporters whereas internet hosting a lunch for the ambassadors of UN Safety Council members.
Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman for Iran’s mission on the United Nations, once more disputed any casualty figures from overseas as “purely speculative and highly inaccurate.” Nevertheless, Iran’s authorities has up to now refused to launch any of its personal.
“Mr. Hook has already said in public that he is very pleased with the suffering of ordinary Iranians, and that the US has had arrangements in the past two years to maximize what occurred with the recent violence and damages in Iran,” Miryousefi informed The Related Press.
There was no identified public video that supported Hooks’ allegation of a bloodbath in Mahshahr, though he mentioned the State Division had gotten more than 32,000 responses to Pompeo’s attraction for movies and different proof utilizing the encrypted messaging app Telegram, which is well-liked in Iran.
Nor has there been any extensively accepted declare matching Hook’s dying toll of more than 1,000. Amnesty Worldwide believes at the very least 208 individuals have been killed and that the quantity might be increased. Iran has disputed that determine, however has refused to provide any nationwide statistics of the quantity of accidents, arrests or deaths from the unrest.
Nevertheless, Hook’s numbers seem to match a determine put out late Wednesday by the Iranian exile group referred to as the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, which has paid Trump’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani for speeches at its occasions up to now.
The MeK alleged late Wednesday that more than 1,000 individuals had been killed. It revealed a listing of 320 individuals it mentioned it had recognized as far as having been killed however didn’t present proof.
Iran has alleged MeK supporters and people backing exiled Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi, the son of the nation’s late shah, of being behind the unrest alongside overseas powers. It has not provided proof to assist these allegations.
As well as to the deaths, Hook mentioned more than 7,000 protesters had been detained, with many despatched to two prisons. Hook mentioned that Pompeo had notified Congress on Thursday that each prisons can be hit with US sanctions for gross human rights abuses. It was not instantly clear when these designations would happen.
Hook’s feedback come because the US steps up its “maximum pressure campaign” on Iran that it started after withdrawing from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal final 12 months. That marketing campaign has been highlighted by the imposition of more and more powerful sanctions and a rise in rhetoric vital of Tehran and its management.
As half of the strain marketing campaign, Hook introduced that the US is providing a reward of up to $15 million for data main to the whereabouts of a prime IRGC commander now believed to be supporting rebels in Yemen. He mentioned Abdul Reza Shahalai was accountable for quite a few assaults towards US forces in Iraq and had been behind a foiled plot to homicide the Saudi ambassador to the US in a Washington restaurant.



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