Tue, May 07, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Possible attack prompted US deployment: source

‘ESCALATORY INDICATIONS’:White House National Security Adviser John Bolton said the US was not seeking war with Iran, but was ‘prepared to respond to any attack’

AP, WASHINGTON

A White House decision to dispatch an aircraft carrier and other military resources to send a message to Iran followed “clear indications” that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were preparing to possibly attack US forces in the region, a defense official told reporters.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information, said that the Pentagon approved the deployments and that US forces at sea and on land were thought to be the potential targets.

The official declined to be more specific.

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton said in a statement on Sunday that the US was deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the US Central Command region, an area that includes the Middle East.

Bolton said the move was in response to “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings.”

He did not provide details, but said the US wants to send a message that “unrelenting force” will meet any attack on US interests or those of its allies.

“The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or regular Iranian forces,” he said.

The Pentagon had no immediate comment on the Bolton statement.

The Abraham Lincoln and its strike group of ships and combat aircraft have been operating in the Mediterranean Sea recently.

Speaking to reporters while flying to Europe, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the actions undertaken by the US had been in the works for a little while.

“It is absolutely the case that we have seen escalatory actions from the Iranians and it is equally the case that we will hold the Iranians accountable for attacks on American interests,” Pompeo said. “If these actions take place, if they do by some third-party proxy, a militia group, Hezbollah, we will hold the Iranian leadership directly accountable for that.”

Separately, Washington expressed concern over Turkey’s announced intentions to begin offshore drilling operations in an area claimed by Cyprus as its exclusive economic zone, a State Department spokesperson said on Sunday.

Turkish media on Saturday cited Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu as saying a Turkish ship had started drilling in areas for which northern Cypriot authorities had issued a permit, a move likely to stoke tensions with Cyprus and Greece.

Turkey and the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government have overlapping claims of jurisdiction for offshore oil and gas research in the eastern Mediterranean, a region thought to be rich in natural gas.

“The United States is deeply concerned by Turkey’s announced intentions to begin offshore drilling operations in an area claimed by the Republic of Cyprus as its exclusive economic zone,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said. “This step is highly provocative and risks raising tensions in the region.”

Additional reporting by Reuters

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