By Servet Gunerigok
WASHINGTON (AA) – The U.S. on Friday announced the deployment of 3,000 troops to Saudi Arabia as well as military equipment, according to a statement by the Pentagon.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper authorized the move at the request of U.S. Central Command.
The equipment includes two fighter squadrons, one Air Expeditionary Wing (AEW), two Patriot batteries and one Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD).
"Taken together with other deployments, this constitutes an additional 3,000 forces that have been extended or authorized within the last month," said Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman.
According to the statement, earlier Friday, Esper informed Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman of the additional troop deployment to "assure and enhance the defense of Saudi Arabia."
"Since May, the Department of Defense has increased the number of forces by approximately 14,000 to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility as an investment into regional security," read the statement.
The Pentagon said Washington does not seek conflict with the Iran, but it is ready respond to any crisis and will defend U.S. forces and interest in the region.
Drones hit two oil facilities in the north of Saudi Arabia on Sept. 14, causing it to take out 5.7 million barrels per day of production and roiled global hydrocarbon markets.
Yemen’s Houthi rebel group initially claimed responsibility for the attack, but the U.S. has since blamed Iran, as has Saudi Arabia. The Islamic Republic has denied any connection to the strikes.
*Kasim Ileri contributed to the story