WASHINGTON: The number of US troops in Saudi Arabia will reach 3,000 in the coming weeks as Washington boosts its forces in the Kingdom to help defend against Iran.
In a letter to the House of Represntatives on Tuesday, Donald Trump said the forces had been deployed “to assure our partners, deter further Iranian provocative behavior, and bolster regional defensive capabilities.”
The Pentagon said last month it has approved the deployment of the troops and military hardware to Saudi Arabia in response to the September drone and missile attack on the Kingdom’s oil facilities.
Trump said the forces included radar and missile systems to “improve defenses against air and missile threats”, an expeditionary wing to support fighter aircraft from Saudi Arabia, and two fighter squadrons.
He said some of the forces had already arrived in the Kingdom and that the rest will be in place in the coming weeks.
“Iran has continued to threaten the security of the region, including by attacking oil and natural gas facilities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Sept. 14, 2019,” Trump said in the letter.
The attack on the world’s largest oil processing plant at Abqaiq and the Khurais oil field, causing large fires and halving the country’s oil output.
The attack, blamed on Iran, was the peak of months of tensions in which Tehran was also blamed for attacks on shipping, leading to the US bolstering its military presence in the region.
On Tuesday, the US aircraft carrier strike group Abraham Lincoln sailed through the Strait of Hormuz, where the attacks on shipping have taken place.