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U.S. Deploying More Forces, Patriot Missiles To Saudi Arabia

A Saudi general thanks U.S. Soldiers for their professional display during the opening ceremony for Friendship and Ironhawk III, at the Northwest Tactical Training Center. File photo

Almost a month after missile and drone attacks on key Saudi oil installations, the United States announced on Friday a large additional deployment of forces to Saudi Arabia.

Washington, Riyadh and European capitals blamed Iran for the destructive September 14 attack on Saudi oil, while Iran insists it was not involved.

The planned deployment, which was first reported by Reuters, will include fighter squadrons, one air expeditionary wing and air defense personnel, the Pentagon said.

The Pentagon said it was sending two additional Patriot batteries and one Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD).

"Taken together with other deployments, this constitutes an additional 3,000 forces that have been extended or authorized within the last month," Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.

This comes amid President Donald Trump’s repeated call to get out of the Middle East and avoid regional conflicts, when he spoke this week about the Turkish invasion of northern Syria.

The September attack raised questions of why Saudi Arabia’s modern and well-equipped armed forces and U.S. forces in the region failed to protect the most vital economic targets in the kingdom.

It was unclear whether some of the newly announced troops might replace other American forces expected to depart the region in the coming weeks or months.

Iran has responded to previous U.S. troop deployments this year with apprehension.

Reporting by Reuters