WASHINGTON, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced Friday evening that President Donald Trump approved the deployment of “US forces and equipment in response to Saudi Arabia’s request for defensive assistance.” In a joint press conference with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford, Esper stressed that the “Iranian regime is waging a deliberate campaign to destabilize the Middle East and impose costs on the international economy.” “It is clear based on detailed exploitation by Saudi, United States and other international investigative teams that the weapons used in the attack were Iranian-produced and not launched from Yemen,” Esper said. “All indications are that Iran was responsible for the attack.” He added that “the international community has a responsibility to protect the global economy and international rules and norms.” “To prevent further escalation, Saudi Arabia requested international support to help protect the kingdom’s critical infrastructure. The United Arab Emirates has also requested assistance,” Esper noted.
He added “In response to the kingdom’s (Saudi Arabia) request, the president has approved the deployment of US forces, which will be defensive in nature and primarily focused on air and missile defense.” “We will also work to accelerate the delivery of military equipment to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to enhance their ability to defend themselves,” he stressed.
“We urge the Iranian leadership to cease their destructive and destabilizing activities and to move forward on a peaceful, diplomatic path,” he remarked.
For his part, Dunford said that “the Saudis asked for enhanced defensive capabilities.” “So what we’ll do now is take the president’s decision; I’ll talk to CENTCOM over the weekend; we’ll talk with our Saudi partners; and we’ll work the details of the deployment,” he added.
When asked on the troop numbers, he responded “at this point, a moderate deployment,” and “that’s fair to say, not thousands.” This comes after Trump announced on Friday new sanctions on Iran, describing them as the “highest sanctions ever imposed on a country.”
Source: Kuwait News Agency