The Pentagon has decided to send home the only Navy aircraft carrier operating in the Middle East amid heightened tensions with Iran, officials said Thursday.
The decision comes one day after Air Force B-52 bombers flew nonstop from the United States to the Persian Gulf in a show of force that military officials said was intended to caution Iran against carrying out attacks against U.S. forces or interests.
The officials were not authorized to publicly discuss the decision and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The aircraft carrier, the USS Nimitz, will be sent home to the U.S. West Coast.
Earlier this week, an American military officer told reporters that the U.S. had detected signs that Iran had made preparations for possible attacks on U.S. or allied targets in Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East.
Days after a Dec. 20 rocket attack on the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad by Iranian-supported Shiite militia groups, President Donald Trump tweeted that Iran was on notice.
“Some friendly health advice to Iran: If one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. Think it over,” Trump wrote on Dec. 23.
Concerns have been raised ahead of the Jan. 3 anniversary of the American airstrike that killed Iran’s top commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
Iran initially retaliated with a ballistic missile strike on a military base in neighboring Iraq that caused dozens of concussion injuries but no deaths among U.S. troops.
But U.S. officials are concerned that Iran might be planning further retaliation.
The U.S. has maintained a near-continuous aircraft carrier presence in the Persian Gulf region since the USS Abraham Lincoln was sent in May 2019 amid fears that Iran was considering attacking U.S. interests in the region.
The U.S. also sent additional land-based planes and reestablished a troop presence in Saudi Arabia.
The Nimitz deployed from the U.S. in April and was due to return before the end of the year.
In early December, its planned return was postponed, in part out of concerns about potential Iranian threats, and more recently it was ordered to provide support off the coast of Somalia for the movement of American forces out of the country.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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