December 3, 2023

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Pentagon sees threat to US troops in West Asia, beefs up military assets

The US sees the prospect of a significant escalation in attacks on its troops in the West Asia and of Iran seeking to widen the Israel-Hamas war, the top US diplomat and defence officials said on Sunday. US secretary of state Antony Blinken and defence secretary Lloyd Austin said that the US did not want to see the conflict spread and that recent US deployments to the region were designed to prevent this.
Austin said on Saturday that Washington would send more military assets to West Asia in support of Israel and strengthen the US defence posture in the region after “recent escalations by Iran and its proxy forces”- a reference to Hezbollah, Palestinian and other militants. The US is sending a Thaad battery and additional Patriot battalions, two of its most powerful weapons against missiles. “We’re concerned about potential escalation. In fact, what we’re seeing … is the prospect of a significant escalation of attacks on our troops and our people throughout the region,” Austin told ABC’s “This Week” program.
The US has sent significant naval power to the West Asia in recent weeks, including two aircraft carriers, their support ships and about 2,000 Marines. The US has 2,500 troops in Iraq, and 900 more in neighboring Syria.
Blinken, who recently visited the region, spoke of a “likelihood of escalation” while saying no one wants to see a second or third front in the war. “We don’t want to see our forces or our personnel come under fire. But if that happens, we’re ready for it.”
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