President Donald Trump is sending 2,800 more troops, fighter jets and missile defense weaponry to Saudi Arabia to help bolster the kingdom’s defenses after a September attack on its oil facilities, the White House said on Friday.
Trump ordered the deployment of additional service members, two fighter squadrons, one air expeditionary wing, two Patriot Missile batteries and one THAAD missile defense system. With the additional deployment announced Friday, Esper said U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia will number approximately 3,000, NBC News reports.
“Saudi Arabia is a longstanding security partner in the Middle East and has asked for additional support to supplement their own defenses and defend the international rules based order,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said.
The U.S. and Saudi Arabia blamed Iran for the September attack on Saudi oil facilities, which triggered a brief spike in oil prices and raised questions about the country’s air and missile defenses. Tehran has denied it was behind the drone and cruise missile assault, which heavily damaged key oil sites.
The move comes days after Trump pulled U.S. forces from Syria to allow Turkey to launch an attack on Kurds, who fought along with U.S. troops against ISIS.