The US military and the NATO mission in Iraq and Syria presented two very different versions of the threat currently posed by Iran.
“There are a range of threats to American and coalition forces in Iraq and Syria,” British Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, Operation Inherent Resolve deputy commander for stability, told reporters at the Pentagon Tuesday, explaining that while Iranian-backed forces is clearly one of them, “there has been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria.”
US Central Command, however, issued a statement a few hours later arguing that the general’s comments were inaccurate.
“Recent comments from OIR’s Deputy Commander run counter to the identified credible threats available to intelligence from U.S. and allies regarding Iranian backed forces in the region,” a CENTCOM spokesman said.
“US Central Command, in coordination with Operation Inherent Resolve, has increased the force posture level for all service members assigned to OIR in Iraq and Syria. As a result, OIR is now at a high level of alert as we continue to closely monitor credible and possibly imminent threats to US forces in Iraq.”
The contradiction comes as the US military, in coordination with the White House, has been moved a carrier strike group, a bomber task force, and other capabilities to the Middle East in response to “clear indications that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack US forces in the region,” as CENTCOM said previously.
The US has yet to clarify what threat Iran poses, but has repeatedly insisted that the intelligence on the alleged threat is credible. The White House has insisted that the US will respond to any attack on US interests in the region with “unrelenting force.”
As US firepower moves into the CENTCOM area of responsibility, tensions between Washington and Tehran, which were already high, have soared, with both sides issuing threats. Iran has said that US aircraft carriers are targets rather than threats, and President Donald Trump has warned that Iran will suffer if it tries anything.
The situation, despite assurances to the contrary from the White House and Pentagon, have stoked fears that the US may be gearing up for war with Iran.