The White House has deployed an aircraft carrier group and a force of land-based bombers to the Middle East in response to “clear indications” that Iran and Iranian proxy forces are planning to attack U.S. forces in the region.
In a statement Sunday night, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton said the move was in response to “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings.”
“The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces,” Bolton said Sunday.
The carrier group consists of the USS Abraham Lincoln and a strike group of ships which have been operating in the Mediterranean Sea. The United States currently has no aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf.
No further information was available on the bombers being deployed to the region and the Pentagon has not released an official statement on the recent movement of U.S. forces.
“It is absolutely the case that we have seen escalatory actions from the Iranians and it is equally the case that we will hold the Iranians accountable for attacks on American interests,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said while speaking to reporters. “If these actions take place, if they do by some third-party proxy, a militia group, Hezbollah, we will hold the Iranian leadership directly accountable for that.”
The United States has been increasing pressure on the Iranian government in recent months, designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group and announcing that the U.S. will no longer exempt any countries from U.S. sanctions if they continue to buy oil from Iran.