US moving Patriot missile battery to Mideast to counter Iran

Worshippers chant slogans against the United States and Israel during a rally after Friday prayers in Tehran, Iran, Friday, May 10, 2019. A top commander in Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard said Friday that Tehran will not talk with the United States, an Iranian news agency reported — a day after President Donald Trump said he’d like Iranian leaders to "call me." Ebrahim Noroozi WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. will move a Patriot missile battery into the Middle East to counter threats from Iran, the Pentagon said Friday, reflecting ongoing concerns that Tehran may be planning to attack America forces or interests in the region.

The Defense Department released a statement about the move but provided no details. An official said the decision comes after intelligence showed that the Iranians have loaded military equipment and missiles onto small boats controlled by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. The official was not authorized to discuss the information publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Officials had said earlier this week that sending a Patriot battery to the area was under discussion and was part of the initial request made by the Pentagon’s U.S. Central Command. They said it took a few days to get final approval for the Patriot, a long-range, all-weather air defense system to counter tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and advanced aircraft.

Officials had initially indicated that the military moves were based in part on indications that Iran had moved short-range ballistic missiles onto small boats called dhows along its shore.

Officials would not say if the intelligence showed that the boats have mobile launchers on them. But a notice to mariners in the region has warned of potential threats to commercial maritime traffic.

John Bolton, the national security adviser, announced the initial moves on Sunday, citing "troubling and escalatory indications and warnings" but did not explain what they were.

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