The Latest: Some allies skeptical about US claims on Iran
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the United States and Iran (all times local):
Some U.S. allies are expressing skepticism about the Trump administration’s claims that Iran poses a growing threat in the Persian Gulf and beyond.
British Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, a senior officer in the U.S.-backed coalition fighting the Islamic State group, says “there’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria.”
U.S. Central Command has responded by saying Ghika’s remarks “run counter to the identified credible threats” from Iranian-backed forces in the Mideast.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump denied a report that the administration has updated plans to send more than 100,000 troops to counter Iran if necessary. But Trump then stirred the controversy further by saying: “Would I do that? Absolutely.”
The U.S. military says American troops in Iraq and Syria are now on a higher level of alert due to “credible and possibly imminent” threats from Iran, rebutting an earlier statement from a British officer.
Earlier Tuesday, British Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, a senior commander of allied troops in Iraq, told reporters there has been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria.
Navy Capt. Bill Urban, spokesman for U.S. Central Command, has issued a statement saying Ghika’s comments ran counter to “identified credible threats” to the troops from Iranian-backed forces in the region. The statement cites intelligence gathered by the U.S. and its allies but provides no additional details about the potential threats.
The U.S. has about 5,000 troops in Iraq and about 2,000 in Syria.
The U.S.-led military coalition combating the Islamic State group has detected no increased threat lately to its troops in Iraq or Syria from Iranian-backed forces, a senior coalition officer said Tuesday.
“No, there’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria,” British Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika told reporters at the Pentagon in a video-conference from coalition headquarters in Baghdad. “We’re aware of their presence, clearly, and we monitor them, along with a whole range of others because that’s the environment we’re in.
His comment follows assertions by Trump administration officials that they have detected signs that Iranian or Iranian-backed proxies were preparing for possible attacks against American interests in the Mideast.