US President Donald Trump speaks to the media prior to departing on Marine One from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, May 14, 2019
Washington (AFP) - President Donald Trump on Monday rejected a report that he is considering sending 120,000 troops to counter Iran, but didn’t rule out deploying “a hell of a lot more” soldiers in the future.
“I think it’s fake news,” Trump said of a New York Times report that the White House is considering a plan to send 120,000 troops to the region as part of a tightening pressure campaign against the Iranian government.
“Now, would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that,” Trump told reporters. “Hopefully we’re not going to have to plan for that. If we did that, we’d send a hell of a lot more troops than that.”
The Pentagon has already dispatched an aircraft carrier and nuclear-capable bomber planes to the region in the last few days.
According to the Times report, the 120,0000 troops under consideration would not be used to invade Iran, something that planners say would require much bigger numbers.
But such a huge deployment would reverse Trump’s push throughout his presidency to reduce the US military presence abroad and to wind down what he says have been failed wars in the region.
Despite that stance, his government has taken an increasingly hard line with Iran, a longtime foe of the United States and key US allies Israel and Saudi Arabia.