Trump denies US plans to send troops to Iran
President Donald Trump on Tuesday dismissed as fake news a report that top US national security officials reviewed a plan to deploy 120,000 troops to West Asia if Iran attacked American forces, but vowed that if he was forced to make that choice, he would send “a hell of a lot more troops”.
The plan, first reported by The New York Times, was to send nearly the same number of troops as the initial US invasion force in Iraq in 2003.
In response to a question about it, Trump said: “Now, would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. Hopefully we don’t have to plan for that.” But, “if we did that we will send a hell of a lot more troops than that,” he added.
Trump had earlier warned Iran that “it’s going to be a bad problem for Iran if something happens, I can tell you that. They’re not going to be happy.”
The news report said the plan was ordered by National Security Adviser John Bolton, a strident Iran hawk, and the meeting was attended by acting secretary of defence Patrick Shanahan, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Joseph Dunford, CIA director Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats among others.
The United States despatched an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers to West Asia last week citing intelligence that Iran, by itself or through proxies, could launch an attack on American interests or allies.
It has also deployed a Patriot anti-missile battery and an amphibious warship used for transporting troops.
The NYT report said that some national security officials believe Iran has felt emboldened after Trump’s announcement to withdraw troops from Syria and a thinning US naval presence int he region.
Teheran, in their view reportedly, has concluded the Trump administration doesn’t have the stomach for a conflict.
Satellite photo by Maxar Technologies shows a Saudi-flagged oil tanker off the coast of Fujairah, UAE.