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US sending assault ship, Patriot missile battery to Middle East: Pentagon

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
USS Arlington (LPD-24) (File photo)

The United States says it is deploying an amphibious assault ship and a Patriot missile battery to the Middle East just a few days after it sent an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the region.

“The Acting Secretary of Defense has approved the movement of USS Arlington (LPD-24) and a Patriot battery to US Central Command (CENTCOM) as part of the command’s original request for forces from earlier this week,” the Pentagon said in a statement on Friday.

"These assets will join the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a US Air Force bomber task force in the Middle East region in response to indications of heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations against US forces and our interests," the statement added.

John Bolton, the hawkish US national security adviser, said Sunday that the US was doing so in a "clear and unmistakable" message to Iran that “any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”

Bolton said the decision was “in response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings.”

Meanwhile, a senior Iranian military official said on Friday the Trump administration did not dare to wage a war on Iran despite its recent move.

The Americans think they can intimidate the Iranian nation and force officials to sit for talks by combining military rhetoric with sanctions and economic pressures, but the Iranian nation well knows the scenario, and considers the US untrustworthy, said Brigadier General Yadollah Javani, a political head of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

The move by the US comes as it had earlier vowed to cut Iran’s oil exports down to zero, prompting Tehran to warn that it will not allow any other country to export oil through the Strait of Hormuz if Tehran cannot sell its crude.

The US administration said in a statement on April 22 that buyers of Iranian oil must stop their purchases by May 1 or face sanctions. The move ended six months of waivers, which allowed Iran’s eight biggest buyers -- Turkey, China, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan -- to continue importing limited volumes.

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