No Iran Threat, Top British Officer Says, Contradicting US

Deputy commander of anti-Isis coalition rebuts White House justification for sending troops

DESPARDES News Report – The USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier has been sent to the Gulf as part of a US military buildup in the region “to counter growing Iranian threats in the region (particularly Iraq and Syria).”

Amid the development, the top general in the US-led coalition against Isis has said there is no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq or Syria, directly contradicting US assertions used to justify a military buildup in the region.

The New York Times reported on Monday night that the acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, had presented the White House with a plan that involved sending up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East in the event of an Iranian attack or departure from the constraints of the 2015 nuclear deal that the US abrogated a year ago.

The revised plans were ordered by administration hardliners led by Bolton, the report said.

However, Maj Gen Christopher Ghika, who is a deputy commander of Operation Inherent Resolve, the coalition conducting counter-terrorist operations against Isis in Iraq and Syria, was repeatedly questioned by reporters about the threat from Shia militias in Syria and Iraq, cited by US officials over the past week as justification for speeding up the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group in the Gulf and for sending B-52 Stratofortress bombers and an anti-aircraft battery to the region.

“No – there’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria,” Ghika said in a videolink briefing from Baghdad to the Pentagon. “We’re aware of that presence, clearly. And we monitor them along with a whole range of others because that’s the environment we’re in. “We are monitoring the Shia militia groups. I think you’re referring to carefully and if the threat level seems to go up then we’ll raise our force protection measures accordingly.”

Read more in The Guardian, UK