US blames Iran for attacks on Gulf shipping
A senior US official on Friday accused Iran and its proxies for attacks on four vessels near the UAE and a rocket attack in Iraq earlier this month.
Vice Admiral Michael Gilday said that he had a high degree of confidence that Iran's Revolutionary Guards were responsible for the explosions on four tankers in Fujairah and the firing of rockets close to the US embassy in Baghdad.
He told reporters the conclusions were based on intelligence about the events but did not provide evidence to back his claims.
The joint staff director said a decision to send 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East will boost surveillance of Iranian forces and their proxies.
Additional forces will include manned and unmanned aircraft, a squadron of fighter jets, a Patriot missile battalion and military engineers.
On Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the government would bypass Congress to sell $8.1 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan to "deter Iranian aggression".
"These sales will support our allies, enhance Middle East stability and help these nations to deter and defend themselves from the Islamic Republic of Iran," Pompeo said in a statement.
The sale will include $7 billion in precision guided munitions, bombs and ammunition and aircraft maintenance support to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan.
Pompeo added that that an "emergency exists which requires the immediate sale" of the weapons "in order to deter further the malign influence of the government of Iran throughout the Middle East region".