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BAGHDAD (AP) – The top commander of U.S. forces in the Mideast says Iran appears to have decided to “step back and recalculate” in response to a U.S. military buildup in the Persian Gulf area.
Marine General Frank McKenzie says it is too early to conclude Iran has abandoned plans for potential attacks against American interests that prompted the buildup last month.
Mr. McKenzie told reporters Thursday that he is assessing Iran’s stance. He says he would not rule out requesting more forces to bolster American defenses.
He also said Iran and its proxies posed what he called an “advanced and imminent” threat to U.S. forces when he asked on May 5 for authority to accelerate the deployment of an aircraft carrier and send four strategic bombers to the Gulf area.
The White House in May deployed the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf. The U.S. also plans to send 900 additional troops to the Mideast and extend the stay of another 600 as tens of thousands of others also are on the ground across the region.
The crisis takes root in President Donald Trump’s withdrawal last year of the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that capped Iran’s uranium enrichment activities in return for lifting sanctions. Washington subsequently re-imposed sanctions on Iran, sending its economy into freefall.