(Persia Digest) - The Trump administration is preparing to send 500 US troops to Saudi Arabia, bolstering the military relationship between the US and the kingdom amid rising tensions with neighboring Iran, a report said Wednesday.
Ben Feuerherd writes in The New York Post that the troops will be sent to the Prince Sultan Air Base in the country, which is in a desert east of Riyadh, CNN reported, citing two unnamed officials familiar with the plans.
The deployment plan comes as the US continues to respond to the downing of a US drone by Iran in the region. After the drone was shot down, Trump pulled back on a military strike of the country when he found out more than 100 people would be killed in a planned operation.
The US also announced it would deploy 1,000 troops in the region after an attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman that the US blames on Iran.
“The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,” Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan said in a statement on June 17.
The plan also strengthens the Trump administration’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, even as congressional lawmakers have sought to punish the country, in part, for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi, a US national, was killed and dismembered in the Saudi embassy in Turkey, allegedly by agents of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.