Sunday, 13 October, 2019

USA to send troops to Saudi Arabia as tensions with Iran grow

US to deploy troops to Saudi Arabia in face of 'credible' regional threats Saudi Arabia has decided to host US troops, says Saudi defence ministry
Patty Aguilar | 20 July, 2019, 13:27

Officials say the U.S.is sending several hundred troops as well as aircraft and air defense missiles to Saudi Arabia to counter Iran.

Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia is a close US ally and a bitter rival of Shi'ite-led Iran.

The US will send additional troops and resources to Saudi Arabia to strengthen defence and deterrence in the Persian Gulf region in the face of "emergent, credible threats", the Pentagon has said.

"Based on mutual cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the United States of America, and their desire to enhance everything that could preserve the security of the region and its stability".

The U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia lasted 12 years, beginning with Operation Desert Storm in 1991, in which a U.S. -led coalition reversed Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported the move earlier but did not provide details on the number of US troops that are expected to arrive in the Kingdom.

In a separate statement on Friday, CENTCOM said that it is launching Operation Sentinel, a multinational maritime effort to increase surveillance and security in key waterways in the Middle East.

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Senior American defence officials said some U.S. troops and Patriot air defence missile systems have already arrived at Prince Sultan Air Base, south of Riyadh, where the troops have been preparing for the arrival of aircraft later this summer as well as additional troops.

Starting with the January 1991 air war against Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait the previous summer, the USA flew a wide range of aircraft from Prince Sultan air base, originally known as al-Kharj.

Troops are preparing the base for the arrival of aircraft and additional soldiers later in the summer, one USA official said.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that a U.S. warship destroyed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz, but Tehran denied the U.S. assertion. Until the USA military withdrew from the kingdom in 2003, United States aircraft were stationed at the Prince Sultan air base, around 80km south of the capital, Riyadh.

Friction between the USA and Iran has worsened since Trump unilaterally withdrew Washington from a historic nuclear deal signed in 2015 between Tehran and world powers and re-imposed sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps on Friday announced that it seized British oil tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz because the vessel failed to respect worldwide maritime rules while passing through the strait.

The gesture comes amid rising tensions between Washington and Tehran in the Gulf that have impacted global oil markets.

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