The United States says it will send troops to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to bolster Riyadh’s air defenses following a recent drone attack on two major oil facilities owned by Saudi state oil giant Aramco.
The decision to send reinforcements to the region, which was approved by President Donald Trump on Friday, was made at the request of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to the US Defense Department.
The Pentagon said the deployment would involve a moderate number of troops for what it called primarily “defensive in nature”.
“In response to the kingdom’s request, the president has approved the deployment of US forces, which will be defensive in nature and primarily focused on air and missile defense,” US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said at a news briefing.
“We will also work to accelerate the delivery of military equipment to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to enhance their ability to defend themselves.”
The Pentagon has previously planned to send anti-missile batteries, drones and more fighter jets to the Persian Gulf too, according to Reuters. Washington is also considering keeping an aircraft carrier in the region indefinitely.
The new decision comes after Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah fighters conducted strikes on the two facilities located in Abqaiq and Khurais on September 14. The attacks led to a halt in about 50 percent of the Arab kingdom’s crude and gas production, causing a surge in oil prices.