The U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps are on heightened alert and increase patrols over Iraq to respond to a potential Iranian attack at U.S. troops in Middle East region.
Pentagon officials are concerned about movements of Iranian-backed militias amid heightened tensions on the eve of the liquidation anniversary of Iran’s top commander General Qasem Soleimani that been killed in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad on 3 January 2020.
Specifically, the Pentagon is closely watching “troubling indicators of potential attack preparations” from Iranian militias in Iraq, the official said.
“It is worrisome,” one official told CNN. “We have indications” of militia preparations, they added. The official declined to offer specific details due to the sensitive nature of the intelligence but said all the weapons “capability” needed by the groups is already in Iraq, noting the militias consistently maintain a stockpile of rockets and artillery. While there are no specific indications that any decision to attack has been made, the official said the preparations had been undertaken in recent days.
The Pentagon announced Thursday that it flew a pair of B-52 bombers from their base in Barksdale, La., to the Middle East and back to “deter aggression” in the region. The military has also taken other steps in recent weeks, including sending the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz back to the Middle East and dispatching an additional fighter jet squadron from Europe.
A journalist and military aviation analyst, Babak Taghvaee also reported that due to the possibility of an incoming attack of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps at U.S. troops in Iraq, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and Marince Corps have all increased their patrols over the country monitoring Quds Force and Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) or al-Hashd al-Shaabi.
“They are ready to quickly retaliate their attack,” Babak Taghvaee said on Twitter.
#BREAKING: Due to the possibility of an incoming attack of #IRGC at #US military forces in #Iraq, #USAF, #USNavy & #USMC have all increased their patrols over the country monitoring Quds Force & its #PMU (Hashd al-Sha’abi) militias.They are ready to quickly retaliate their attack https://t.co/8TNgYAMdUG pic.twitter.com/DKEUdnPchq
— Babak Taghvaee – The Iran Watch (@TheIranWatch) December 26, 2020
Also, plane spotters reported that the U.S. Air Force has deployed KC-135R medium-size tankers, KC-10A heavy tankers, RC-135W signals-intelligence (SIGINT) aircraft and an E-3B airborne warning and control system (AWACS) to the region.
According to Politico, the moves are designed to deter Iran from taking any aggressive action against U.S. and coalition forces in the region.
The Pentagon is concerned that Tehran could take advantage of the presidential transition and U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the upcoming anniversary of the U.S. killing of Iranian leader Qassem Soleimani, a military source told Politico.