The acting Pentagon chief has green-lighted the deployment of 1,000 additional US troops to the Middle East, citing “reliable, credible” intelligence on recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf that Washington blames on Iran.
Iran is responsible for the attack based on video evidence and the resources and proficiency needed to quickly remove the unexploded limpet mine
In a statement Monday, Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said he approved US Central Command (CENTCOM)’s earlier request to increase forces to “address air, naval, and ground-based threats in the Middle East.”
Acting Defense Secretary announces the USA is sending 1000 additional troops to the Middle East pic.twitter.com/DScxUOaKxc
— Dianne Gallagher (@DianneG) June 17, 2019
The US has been beefing up its troops in the region since early May, when Washington sent a battery of Patriot missiles, nuclear-capable bombers and an aircraft carrier strike group to the area, where it currently has 1,500 troops. The growing threat from Tehran was given as justification for the buildup. Washington has blamed Iran for a number of incidents in the region over the last two months. Tehran denies its involvement.
A recent report, citing UN sources in New York, alleged that Washington was considering launching a ‘tactical assault on Iran’ in retaliation to the June 13th attack on two foreign tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
The statement itself comes just hours after the Pentagon released new images purporting to prove Iran’s guilt in the incident that damaged Japanese-owned tanker ‘Kokuka Courageous’ and the Norwegian-owned ‘Front Altair’. No insignia, flags or names of the vessels can be discerned from the footage.
The US releases new evidence incriminating Iran
The US Navy has released new photos of the aftermath of the attack on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The images are said to show an Iranian speedboat, approaching one of the vessels to remove an unexploded limpet mine.
The new images show the same episode earlier featured in a very low-quality black and white video released by the US military. The new pictures – clearer and colored – appear to be screengrabs from aerial footage of the incident.
The pictures show a speedboat, said to be Iranian, approaching the Japanese-owned tanker ‘Kokuka Courageous’ from the starboard side and removing a device that Pentagon insists is a limpet mine. According to Washington, this imagery somehow proves that Tehran was behind the attack.
“Iran is responsible for the attack based on video evidence and the resources and proficiency needed to quickly remove the unexploded limpet mine,” the US military said in a statement.
Other pictures show a hole, said to be blown in the tanker’s hull by another mine, and even handprints of a person who removed the unexploded device.
The ‘Kokuka Courageous’ and the Norwegian-owned ‘Front Altair’ were damaged when sailing through the Gulf of Oman on June 13, when they were rocked by explosions and fires. The US rushed to blame Iran for the incident, with President Donald Trump saying that the evidence obtained by the US has “Iran written all over it.” Teheran dismissed the claims, suggesting the incident might have been a “false-flag” operation, the kind of operations the US has a vast experience in.
The Thursday incident comes a month after four other commercial tankers were damaged off the cost of the United Arab Emirates. Washington blamed Tehran for this as well, and Iran vehemently denied all the allegations.
The US has repeatedly invoked the increased threat from Tehran to build up its forces in the region, sending B-52 strategic bombers, a carrier strike group, a battery of Patriot missiles and 1,500 more troops to Iran’s doorstep. A few hours after the Pentagon released the footage, acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced that another 1,000 troops would be deployed to the Middle East, citing “credible intelligence” allegedly proving Iran’s “hostile behavior.”
Iran has refuted all the allegations about its involvement in the incidents, pointing to a vast record of ‘false flag’ operations carried out by the US to back up its interests around the world.
RT with additional input by GVS News Desk