The Pentagon has denied a report that the United States was weighing sending up to 14,000 more troops to the Middle East in the face of a perceived threat from Iran.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the possible deployment would include “dozens” more ships and double the number of troops added to the US force in the region since the beginning of this year, citing unnamed US officials.
The paper said President Donald Trump could make a decision on the troop boost as early as this month.
But the Pentagon disputed the accuracy of the report.
“To be clear, the reporting is wrong. The US is not considering sending 14,000 additional troops to the Middle East,” spokeswoman Alyssa Farah tweeted.
The region has seen a series of attacks on shipping vessels and a drone and missile attack on Saudi oil installations in September blamed on Iran.
Meanwhile, a senior Pentagon official said on Wednesday there were indications that Iran could potentially carry out aggressive actions in the future, amid simmering tensions between Tehran and Washington.
“We also continue to see indications, and for obvious reasons I won’t go into the details, that potential Iranian aggression could occur,” John Rood, the Pentagon’s No. 3 official, told reporters.
Two US officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said there was intelligence over the past month indicating that Iran was moving forces and weapons in the region.
Rood’s statement came after a US Navy warship seized advanced missile parts believed to be linked to Iran from a boat it had stopped in the Arabian Sea, US officials said on Wednesday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Portugal on Wednesday and called for increased pressure on the “tottering” Iranian government.
It also follows a call by Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pile up more pressure on Iran.
Washington has already ratcheted up its military presence in the Gulf. In mid-November the US aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln sailed through the Strait of Hormuz in a show of force aimed at reassuring allies worried about the Iran threat.
In October Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced that two fighter squadrons and additional missile defense batteries were being sent to Saudi Arabia, for a total of about 3,000 new troops.