US sends naval strike group to Middle East

The US is sending an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East in a "clear and unmistakable" message to Iran, National Security Advisor John Bolton said Sunday (May 5th).

"In response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings, the US is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the US Central Command region," Bolton said in a statement.

The deployment is aimed at sending "a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on US interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force", Bolton said.

"The US is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), or regular Iranian forces," he said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later said it "is absolutely the case that we have seen escalatory actions from the Iranians and it is equally the case that we will hold the Iranians accountable for attacks on American interests".

"If these actions take place, if they do by some third-party proxy, a militia group, Hizbullah, we will hold the Iranian leadership directly accountable for that," he said.

Pompeo did not elaborate on what "escalatory actions" he was referring to, AFP reported.

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