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U.S. sending 1,000 more troops to Middle East amid tensions with Iran

Pentagon deploying another 1,000 troops

The U.S. is sending 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East as tensions with Iran continue to rise after recent attacks on two oil tankers, which the U.S. says were carried out by Iranian forces.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced the new troop deployment in a statement Monday, saying U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) requested the forces "for defensive purposes to address air, naval and ground-based threats in the Middle East."

"The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region," Shanahan said. "The United States does not seek conflict with Iran. The action today is being taken to ensure the safety and welfare of our military personnel working throughout the region and to protect our national interests."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement saying, "This deeply concerning decision may escalate the situation with Iran and risk serious miscalculations on either side.  Diplomacy is needed to defuse tensions, therefore America must continue to consult with our allies so that we do not make the region less safe."

The move comes just days after the attacks on the oil tankers in one of the world's most important shipping routes, which the U.S. says were carried out by Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Last week, the Pentagon released footage purporting to show an Iranian vessel affixing an unexploded mine to one of the ships. On Monday, the military released new photos of the aftermath, including an image showing a gaping hole in the side of one of the tankers.

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The side of an oil tanker that was attacked in the Gulf of Oman on June 13, 2019. Department of Defense

On Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told "Face the Nation" the administration was considering a "full range" of options to counter Iranian aggression, including a possible military strike. Pompeo traveled on Monday to Florida to meet with officials from CENTCOM, which oversees military operations in the Middle East.

The Iranian government has denied involvement in the attacks. The country's atomic agency said Monday it was increasing its production of uranium and will surpass the limit allowed under the 2015 nuclear deal within 10 days. President Trump announced he was withdrawing the U.S. from that accord in 2018.

In late May, President Trump ordered 1,500 troops deployed to the region, following earlier coordinated attacks on four oil tankers.

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