BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:30 P.M.) – A new report from CNN said that there is a division among Pentagon officials regarding the risk of possible attacks by Iran and its regional allies, ahead of the anniversary of the assassination of Qassem Soleimani.
In a report published on Thursday, CNN quoted a high-ranking Pentagon official as saying that the threat posed by Iran has now reached the highest level since the assassination of Soleimani.
Pentagon officials told CNN that there are new intelligence reports that Iran and its allied factions in Iraq may be planning attacks on American forces in the Middle East, and these preparations include the transfer of short-range ballistic missiles to the neighboring country, which prompted Washington to deploy additional forces in the area.
On the other hand, other Pentagon officials expressed to the network their conviction that concerns about the alleged Iranian threat are exaggerated.
A second high-ranking official in the Defense Department, who is directly involved in discussions on the issue, confirmed the absence of any intelligence indicating that an attack by Iran might be imminent.
Another defense official told CNN that the US Army Joint Chiefs of Staff is following the situation very carefully, explaining: “The military do not believe that there is an imminent threat of attacks, but they are making all preparations to ensure deterrence and protection of US forces.”
In this regard, CNN indicated that the US Central Command announced yesterday that B-52 bombers would fly to the Middle East for the second time since the beginning of the month.
At the same time, the second senior official confirmed that Acting US Defense Secretary Christopher Miller’s decision yesterday to withdraw the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz from the Gulf came despite the demands of Central Command Kenneth McKenzie to extend the ship’s mission in the region.
The officials described the recent military moves in the region as a “muscle show” aimed at warning Tehran against taking any hostile measures against the American forces in the region ahead of the anniversary of the assassination of Soleimani, who was killed in an American raid near Baghdad Airport on January 3rd.