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Military officer says no rise in Iran threat in Iraq, Syria

AP  |  Washington 

The U.S.-led military coalition combating the Islamic State group has detected no greater recent threat to its troops in or from forces backed by Iran, a said Tuesday in an apparent contradiction of claims.

"No, there's been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in and Syria," British Maj. Gen. told reporters at the in a video conference from coalition headquarters in "We're aware of their presence, clearly, and we monitor them, along with a whole range of others because that's the environment we're in."

His comment comes amid heightened tensions in the Middle East, including assertions by administration officials that they have detected signs that Iranian or Iranian-backed proxies were preparing for possible attacks against American interests in the Mideast. The administration cited the threats as the reason for expediting the deployment of an group and other military resources to the region.

"There are a substantial number of militia groups in and Syria, and we don't see any increased threat from any of them at this stage," Ghika said.

The U.S. has about 5,000 troops in Iraq and about 2,000 in as part of the coalition campaign to defeat the Islamic State group there.

At the White House, dismissed a report in that the is reviewing military plans against that could result in sending 120,000 U.S. troops to the if attacks American forces or steps up work on nuclear weapons.

Trump, speaking to reporters, said he would "absolutely" be willing to send troops, but has not planned for that and hopes he won't have to.

He said that if the U.S. were going to get into a military conflict with Iran, "we'd send a hell of a lot more" troops.

Last week, abruptly canceled a scheduled visit to to fly to Iraq and show support for the and underscore its need to protect Americans in the country.

"We wanted to let them know about the increased threat stream that we had seen and give them a little bit more background on that so they could ensure that they were doing all they could to provide protection for our team," he said as he left Iraq.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, May 14 2019. 23:56 IST