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U.S. To Send Additional 1,500 Troops To Mideast For 'Protective' Role

US President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 22, 2019, in Washington, DC.
US President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 22, 2019, in Washington, DC.

The United States will send 1,500 soldiers to the Middle East to bolster its forces amid rising tensions with Iran.

President Donald Trump told reporters in Washington on May 24 that the additional troops would play a “mostly protective” role in the region.

"We want to have protection in the Middle East. We're going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective," Trump said as he left the White House for a trip to Japan.

"Some very talented people are going to the Middle East right now. And we'll see what happens," he added.

Relations between Tehran and Washington have plummeted since Trump a year ago pulled the United States out of a 2015 nuclear accord between world powers and Iran that curbed the country’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from crippling economic sanctions.

Since then, Washington has stepped up its rhetoric and reimposed sanctions.

Earlier this month, the United States beefed up its military presence in the Middle East and Persian Gulf, citing "imminent threats" from Tehran, prompting growing concerns of a possible military conflict with Iran.

Tehran denied the allegations.

Amid the escalating tensions with Washington, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has warned of anarchy in the Middle East if world powers do not unite to stop what he called U.S. aggression.

The official Iranian news agency IRNA said Zarif made the remark May 24 in Islamabad, where he held talks with top Pakistani officials.

The Arab League is scheduled to hold an emergency meeting next week amid the tensions.

Zarif later on May 23 in the Pakistani capital criticized the Trump administration for designating last month Iran's powerful paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist group.

Earlier, Zarif met with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

A brief statement from Khan's office said only that bilateral issues were discussed during the meeting on May 24.

Iran and Pakistan share a troubled 900-kilometer-long border and Tehran says that anti-Iranian Sunni Muslim militants have found safe havens in Pakistan's border province of Balochistan.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Maashal, CNN, Reuters, and AP