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The Latest: US blames Iran for tanker bombings, Iraq attack

May 25, 2019
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President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, May 24, 2019, before boarding Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., and then on to Tokyo(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the United States and Iran tensions (all times local):

1:25 p.m.

A senior Pentagon officer says the U.S. blames Iran and its proxies for the recent tanker bombings near United Arab Emirates and a rocket attack in Iraq.

Vice Admiral Michael Gilday says the U.S. has a high degree of confidence that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard was responsible for the explosions on four tankers, and that Iranian proxies in Iraq fired rockets into Baghdad.

Gilday, the Joint Staff director, says the latest decision to send 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East will boost surveillance of Iranian forces and their proxies. The additional forces will include more manned and unmanned aircraft, a squadron of fighter jets, a Patriot missile battalion and military engineers.

He did not provide direct evidence to back up claims tying Iran to the attacks. He told reporters the conclusions were based on intelligence and evidence gathered in the region.

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12:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump says the U.S. will bolster its military presence in the Middle East with an additional 1,500 troops.

He says the troops will have a “mostly protective” role. He spoke to reporters on the White House lawn as he headed out on a trip to Japan.

The U.S. began reinforcing its presence in the Persian Gulf region this month in response to what it said was a threat from Iran.

The administration had notified Congress earlier Friday about the troop plans.

Acording to a copy of the notification obtained by The Associated Press, the forces would number “roughly” 1,500 and would deploy in the coming weeks, “with their primary responsibilities and activities being defensive in nature.”

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11:50 a.m.

U.S. officials say the Trump administration has notified Congress it plans to send 1,500 troops to the Middle East amid heightened tensions with Iran.

Officials said members of Congress were notified following a White House meeting Thursday to discuss Pentagon proposals to bolster the U.S. force presence in the Middle East.

The officials spoke Friday on condition of anonymity because the troop plans have not yet been formally announced.

Earlier this week, officials had said that Pentagon planners had outlined plans that could have sent up to 10,000 military reinforcements to the region. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan later said planners hadn’t settled on a figure.

The U.S. began reinforcing its presence in the Persian Gulf region this month in response to what it said was a threat from Iran.

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President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, May 24, 2019, before boarding Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., and then on to Tokyo(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)