US sending B-52s to Middle East against Iran 'threat'
The US Air Force is deploying massive B-52 Stratofortress bombers to the Gulf in response to an alleged plan by Iran to attack US forces in the region, AFP reported Tuesday (May 7th).
Several B-52s are heading to the region along with an aircraft carrier task force following what the Pentagon called "recent and clear indications that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack US forces".
"The deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force are considered a prudent step in response to indications of heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations against US forces and our interests," acting Pentagon spokesman Charles Summers said in a statement.
"We emphasize the White House statement that we do not seek war with the Iranian regime, but we will defend US personnel, our allies and our interests in the region," he said.
The US move comes in response to intelligence about a threat orchestrated by Iran, officials said, but details of the threat have not been disclosed.
Navy Capt. Bill Urban, spokesman for the US military's Central Command, which spans the Middle East, said the threat could be land-based or maritime.
He said the Lincoln strike group was already scheduled to head to the region on long-planned deployment but that its arrival in the Gulf has been accelerated due to the threat.
The multinational carrier group, including several ships, multiple types of aircraft, and 6,000 personnel, will be deployed "where it will best be able to protect US forces and interests in the region and to deter any aggression".
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in Baghdad late Tuesday on an unannounced visit amid escalating US-Iran tensions.
Pompeo abruptly cancelled talks in Germany to spend four hours in Iraq, where he met both President Barham Saleh and Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.
After the meeting, he said Iraq had promised to guarantee the safety of US interests from Iran, which he accused of planning "imminent" attacks.
Pompeo said he made the trip because Iranian forces are "escalating their activity" and said the threat of attacks were "very specific".
"These were attacks that were imminent," Pompeo said, but declined to go into further detail.