15:18 GMT +320 January 2020
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    The United States may consider sending thousands more American troops to the Middle East as tensions rise with Iran, CNN reported, citing three US officials familiar with the matter.

    Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan has affirmed that the Pentagon was considering sending more US troops to the Middle East as one of the ways to strengthen protection for American forces there amid tensions with Iran.

    "What we're looking at is: are there things that we can do to enhance force protection in the Middle East? It may involve sending additional troops", Shanahan told reporters outside the Pentagon.

    However, the defence secretary brushed off reports that the United States is considering sending 5,000 to 10,000 additional troops to the Middle East as inaccurate.

    "There is no 10,000 and there is no 5,000, that's not accurate", he said.

    Shanahan added that he would be in discussions with US and NATO Forces Commander in Afghanistan Gen. Scott Miller and Central Command Commander Gen. Frank McKenzie regarding the security situation with Iran and force protection matters.

    READ MORE: Iran's Supreme Leader Says Youth Will See Demise of 'Degenerate' US, Israel

    The United States has in recent weeks bolstered its forces in the Middle East in what US National Security Adviser John Bolton has described as "a clear message" to Iran. The United States has reinforced its presence in the region with an aircraft carrier strike group, Patriot missiles, B-52 bombers, and F-15 fighters, according to the Pentagon.

    Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that Iran does not intend to wage war with the United States, but will continue to resist Washington.

    US-Iran tensions flared up last year when the United States unilaterally withdrew from the international nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic. On 8 May, Iran announced its own decision to partially discontinue some of its obligations under the nuclear agreement.


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