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'Fake news': Trump denies deployment of 120,000 troops to counter Iran

Trump called the report 'fake news' [Getty]

Date of publication: 14 May, 2019

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US President Donald Trump denied claims the US was considering sending 120,000 troops to counter Iran, dubbing the reports 'fake news'.

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Iran, US, Trump, Gulf,
President Donald Trump on Monday rejected a report that he is considering sending 120,000 troops to counter Iran, but didn't rule out deploying "a hell of 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 as part of a tightening pressure campaign against the Iranian government.

"Now, would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that," Trump told reporters. "Hopefully we're not going to have to plan for that. If we did that, we'd send a hell of a lot more troops than that."

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.

But such a huge deployment would reverse Trump's push throughout his presidency to reduce the US military presence abroad and to wind down what he says have been failed wars in the region.

Despite that stance, his government has taken an increasingly hard line with Iran, a longtime foe of the United States and key US allies Israel and Saudi Arabia.

The United States deployed an aircraft carrier strike group and nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to the Middle East, triggering fears of a possible military confrontation.

The remarks came amid days of rising tensions in the Gulf, which has witnessed at least two attacks.

On Tuesday, drone attacks claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels shut down one of Saudi Arabia's major oil pipelines, further ratcheting up Gulf tensions after the sabotage of the ships.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude exporter and OPEC kingpin, said two pumping stations had been targeted early on Tuesday.

Houthi rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam wrote on Twitter that the attacks were "a response to the aggressors continuing to commit genocide" against the Yemeni people.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates intervened in the Yemen war to bolster the internationally recognised government's efforts against the Houthis in March 2015.

The reported pipeline attacks came after the UAE said four ships were damaged in "sabotage attacks" off the emirate of Fujairah, close to the Hormuz, on Sunday.

While Washington and its Gulf allies stopped short of blaming Riyadh's regional arch-rival Tehran for the sabotage, US President Donald Trump warned Iran against doing anything to harm US interests.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on "there is not going to be any war" with the United States, his official website reported on Tuesday.

"This face-off is not military because there is not going to be any war. Neither we nor them (the US) seek war. They know it will not be in their interest," he said, quoted on the Khamenei.ir website.

"The definite decision of the Iranian nation is to resist against America," Khamenei said, adding that "in this showdown America will be forced to retreat... because our resolve is stronger."

The supreme leader said negotiating with the US was "poison" because the Americans wanted to take away Iran's strong points such as its missiles or its "strategic depth" in the region.

"Negotiating with the present American government is doubly poisonous... they are not decent humans, they don't stand by anything," he said referring to the US decision to withdraw from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major world powers.

Khamenei accused US President Donald Trump of being uninformed about the situation in Iran.

"Their president says every Friday there are demonstrations in Tehran against the state... Firstly, it's on Saturdays. Second, it's in Paris, not Tehran.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed similar sentiments to Khamenei on Tuesday, saying Washington does not want war with Iran, though he vowed to keep pressuring Tehran amid rising tensions.

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