The US is short-hauling an aircraft carrier and bomber squadron to the Middle East to "give a clear indication." Iran and Iranian deputies planned an attack on US troops in the region, a US official said.
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Late Sunday night, the White House surprised announcement that the USS Abraham Lincoln and a bomber task force were deployed in response to unspecified "disturbing and escalating clues and warnings".
A statement by National Security Advisor John Bolton said the stakes are intended to "send a clear and unequivocal message to the Iranian regime that every attack on the interests of the United States or that of our allies will be met with relentless force." ,
"The United States does not seek war with the Iranian regime, but we are ready to respond to any attack, be it by deputies, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps or regular Iranian troops," the statement said.
A US official told ABC News that the stakes were in response to "clear indications" that Iranian and Iranian deputies were preparing for a possible attack and that the decision to deploy troops had been taken on Sunday.
"The movement of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln into the region has been accelerated and ordered there with immediate effect," said the official.
After leaving Norfolk, Virginia on April 1
Aircraft carrier USS John Stennis has twice been deployed in the Persian Gulf during his last mission, three weeks earlier this year and a week early April.
"It's something we've been working on for some time," Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo told reporters traveling to Europe with him. "It is absolutely the case that we saw Iranian escalation actions, and it is also the case that we will hold the Iranians to account for attacks on American interests."
Pompeo has made no specific statements about the possible actions of Iran, but he said Iran should "know how we will respond to the measures it has taken" and that the Iranian leadership will be responsible for any actions by related third parties or Deputies "held responsible."