The Trump administration is weighing significantly increasing the US military presence in the Middle East to counter Iran by deploying more warships, military hardware and as many as 14,000 additional troops, according to a report.
The deployment — a decision President Trump could make as soon as this month — would double the number of US troops sent to the region since May, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
Trump, who has bristled at drawn-out foreign entanglements involving the US military, is concerned about the threat posed by Tehran following warnings by Israel, the report said.
The newspaper also said he could decide on a smaller deployment.
Top members of the military and some administration officials fear that an Iranian attack on military interests in the region could leave the US with few options.
But boosting the military presence could work as a check to rein in Iranian aggression like the attacks against Saudi Arabian oil facilities in September.
“The U.S. is not sending 14,000 troops to the Middle East to confront Iran,” Pentagon press secretary Alyssa Farah said on Twitter.
The new troops would join the nearly 14,000 US military members sent to the region since May when US intelligence officials identified threats from Iran.
Tensions have been high in the region since Trump last year withdrew the US from a nuclear pact with Iran that was brokered in 2015 by the Obama administration and a number of world powers.
Trump also reinstated punishing economic sanctions against Tehran that were lessened as part of the accord.