US sends additional aircraft carrier strike group and air defense systems to Persian Gulf

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As tensions increase in the Middle East amid escalation War between Israel and HamasDefense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Saturday night that the United States will redeploy one of its strike groups to the Persian Gulf, in addition to sending additional air defense systems to the region.

Austin also said he has placed additional U.S. forces on “ready-to-deploy orders,” but did not detail how many. Austin ordered 2,000 troops earlier this week to be ready to deploy to the Middle East.

The latest decision came after “detailed discussions with President Biden regarding the recent escalations by Iran and its allied forces throughout the Middle East,” Austin said in a statement.

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and its strike group, which Austin had announced last weekend would be deployed to the eastern Mediterranean Sea to join the USS Gerald R. Ford, will head to the Persian Gulf, Austin revealed Saturday.

Austin also said he ordered a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile battery and Patriot missile defense system battalions, also to the Persian Gulf.

The moves come as U.S. military bases in Iraq and Syria have seen an increase in attacks by Iranian-backed Shiite militia groups in the days since Hamas militants invaded southern Israel on October 7.

The USS Gerald R. Ford and her strike group deployed from the western to the eastern Mediterranean. two days later that attack.

Before reversing course on Saturday, Austin last weekend he said Eisenhower’s strike group would join him in the eastern Mediterranean in an effort to “deter hostile actions against Israel or any efforts aimed at expanding this war following Hamas’s attack on Israel.”

Hamas’ attack on Israel left at least 1,400 dead and 3,500 injured. More than 200 people were taken hostage, including several Americans, two of whom were freed on Friday.

The death toll from Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes on Gaza is at least 4,385, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, and more than 13,000 injured.

U.S. officials have said that Iran provides financial support and support for both Hamas and the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah.

David Martin, S. Dev, Kathryn Watson and Khaled Wassef contributed to this report.

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