US to deploy 500 troops to Saudi Arabia amid Iran tensions

The US is preparing to send 500 troops to a remote base east of the Saudi capital Riyadh to front up to the growing Iran threat, CNN reported last night citing two US defense officials.

The move will fortify the growing Prince Sultan Air Base – which is being heavily built-up with a Patriot missile defense battery and an improved runway.

It’s hoped that fifth-generation F-22 stealth jets and other fighters will be flown from the base to strike Iranian targets should war break out, the unnamed officials said.

The base is located in a desert area east of Riyadh and is believed to be difficult for Tehran missiles to target. A formal announcement to Congress is expected to be made sometime next week.

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The Trump administration has said it is committed to trying to help protect Saudi Arabia against Iranian attacks.

Last month the administration announced it was sending 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East as Iran tensions flared but did not specify which countries they were going to. The forces going to Saudi Arabia are part of this deployment.

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Iran recently started enriching uranium beyond a limit established in a 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, a deal from which Trump withdrew. Trump has since intensified economic sanctions on Tehran, and tensions have escalated.

Fears are growing of a wider conflict after the Iranian attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz.

The US has sent thousands of troops, an aircraft carrier, additional Patriot missile defense batteries, nuclear-capable B-52 bombers and advanced fighter jets to the Middle East.