Pentagon To Deploy Thousands Of Extra Troops To ‘Enhance Defense’ Of Saudi Arabia

© Reuters / Mario Anzuoni

The US is sending more troops, fighter jets and missile defense systems to Saudi Arabia amid escalating tensions with Iran.

The Pentagon announced the deployment of thousands of additional troops to “assure and enhance the defense of Saudi Arabia”.

News of the deployment follows just hours after reports that an Iranian tanker was struck by two projectiles in the Red Sea, around 60 miles (96 km) from the Saudi port of Jeddah. 

The BBC reports: US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper says he has authorised the deployment of additional forces, including fighter jets and a defence system.

He said it was in response to “threats in the region”, amid efforts to protect the kingdom from “Iranian aggression”.

The move comes after an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities in September.

“Taken together with other deployments, this constitutes an additional 3,000 forces that have been extended or authorised within the last month,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said.

The US has increased the deployment of forces in the region by 14,000 since May, according to CNN. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had requested additional support, Mr Esper said.

The attack on Saudi oil facilities knocked out 5% of global oil supply and sent oil prices soaring. Both Saudi Arabia and the US blame Iran for the incident.

Mohammed bin Salman said: “If the world does not take a strong and firm action to deter Iran, we will see further escalations that will threaten world interests.”

Iran has denied allegations it was behind the attack.

However the leaders of France, Germany and the UK said in a joint statement that there was no other plausible explanation for the attacks.