Pentagon City, VA, United States (VoA) – The United States ordered its non-emergency employees to leave Iraq on Wednesday, a move that comes as the Trump administration warns of potential threats against American forces in the Middle East from Iran or Iranian-backed proxies.
A statement posted by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said the order applied both to staff there and at the U.S. Consulate in Irbil.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday rejected a report that he is considering sending 120,000 troops to counter Iran, but didn’t rule out deploying “a lot more” soldiers in the future.
“I think it’s fake news,” Trump said of a New York Times report that the White House is considering a plan to send 120,000 troops to the region.
“Now, would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that,” Trump said.
The Pentagon has already dispatched an aircraft carrier and nuclear-capable bomber planes to the region in the last few days, with a Patriot missile battery and a landing platform dock ship on the way. The Patriot system offers protection from aircraft and missiles, while the LPD carries Marines and the aircraft, hovercraft, or boats needed to put them ashore to fight in distant places.
According to the Times report, the 120,0000 troops under consideration would not be used to invade Iran, something that planners say would require much bigger numbers.
Meanwhile, a senior officer in the U.S.-led military coalition combating Islamic State said Tuesday he had seen no greater recent threat to its troops in Iraq or Syria from forces backed by Iran.
“There’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria,” British Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika told reporters at the Pentagon in a video conference from coalition headquarters in Baghdad. “We’re aware of their presence, clearly, and we monitor them, along with a whole range of others because that’s the environment we’re in.”
The statement was in contrast to comments from the Trump administration and the Pentagon, who have asserted for more than a week that they have detected potential threats against U.S. forces in the Middle East.
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