The Pentagon is set to brief the White House on a request for thousands more U.S. troops to be sent to the Middle East, amid rising tensions between Iran and Washington, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans have not been formally announced.
The officials said the request for additional troops was coming from U.S. Central Command and would be presented to the White House on Thursday. But it was not clear whether the White House would approve sending all or just some of the requested defensive forces, as well as additional Patriot missile batteries and more ships.
The Pentagon declined to comment on future plans. "As a matter of long-standing policy, we are not going to discuss or speculate on potential future plans and requests for forces," said Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a Pentagon spokeswoman.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have been escalating since U.S. President Donald Trump announced his decision to try to cut Iran's oil exports to zero and beef up the U.S. military presence in the Gulf in response to what he said were Iranian threats.
But despite the rhetoric, last week Trump told his acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, that he did not want to go to war with Iran.
Sending additional U.S. troops to the region would mark a shift in position for Trump, who has repeatedly said in the past he wanted to reduce the number of U.S. troops in the region.
Last December, Trump announced the withdrawal of 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria. In February, however, he decided to keep about 400 troops there.