U.S. Sends More Missile Defense Systems to Middle East

The U.S. military said it would send more missile defense systems to the Middle East in response to “escalations” from Iran and its allies, who have threatened a broader war in the region. The deployment comes as Israel continues to signal intentions to invade Gaza after Hamas’s deadly incursion earlier this month.

The United States is sending a Thaad battery and additional Patriot battalions, two of its most powerful weapons against missiles, to the region, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said in a statement on Saturday. He did not specify where or how many battalions would be deployed, nor did he say how many troops would be told to “prepare to deploy.” The U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier will now be “redirected” to the Central Command’s area of responsibility, the statement said, a region that encompasses much of the Middle East, including Israel and Lebanon.

Since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing at least 1,400 Israelis, the United States has increased its troop presence in the region and sent more military supplies to Israel as Israel prepares for a possible ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. President Biden, during a rare address from the Oval Office on Thursday, warned Iran and its allies to not join the war and has said he will seek an extra $14 billion in military aid for Israel from Congress.

Iran and its allies have sharpened their language against Israel and the United States in the past two weeks, threatening to open new fronts in the war if the United States becomes more involved. Last week, a U.S. Navy warship in the northern Red Sea shot down three cruise missiles and several drones launched from Yemen that the Pentagon said might have been headed toward Israel. The United States said that the projectiles are a sign of growing attacks by Iranian-backed forces in the region, including Houthi rebels in Yemen, highlighting the risk of a broader war in the region.

Along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, Hezbollah, the militia backed by Iran, has exchanged fire with Israel in the past week. And Israel has struck airports in Syria, used by Iran to send arms to its allies, since Oct. 7.

The United States has already sent 2,000 Marines and sailors to the region, and ordered 2,000 more troops to prepare to deploy since Oct. 7. It’s unclear how many more were ordered on Saturday to be ready. The Eisenhower aircraft carrier was sent after Mr. Austin ordered the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford, another carrier already in the Mediterranean, to move closer to Israel.

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