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Trump says 1500 US troops deploying to Middle East for ‘mostly protective’ purposes

Trump says 1500 US troops deploying to Middle East for ‘mostly protective’ purposes
US President Donald Trump has approved a deployment of 1,500 troops to the Middle East, apparently meant to deter what Washington calls an ongoing threat to US interests from Iran.

“It will be about 1,500 people,” Trump told reporters at the White House as he was leaving for a trip to Japan. “We want to have protection.”

The deployment will happen in the coming weeks, according to a copy of the announcement obtained by the Associated Press. The forces’ “primary responsibilities and activities” would be “defensive in nature,” it said.

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The US president dismissed the speculation that the deployment would further raise tensions between Washington and Tehran.

“I don't think Iran wants to fight. And I certainly don't think Iran wants to fight with us,” Trump told reporters.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan acknowledged the possibility of a deployment on Thursday, but denied reports in the press that the Pentagon had planned to send between 5,000 and 10,000 troops to the region.

Since early May, Washington has sounded alarms about an imminent Iranian threat to US interests and allies in the region, but has yet to provide detail as to what the threat could be.

Tehran has denied all accusations. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani vowed on Thursday to never “give up on our goals for the independence of our country” even if “enemies … bomb our land.”

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