US military officials yesterday said that the American forces across the Middle East were placed on high alert over “possible Iranian drones attack,” referring to a detected “Iranian movement of military equipment.”
“The US intelligence has observed Iran moving military equipment, including drones and ballistic missiles, over the last several days,” the US officials told CNN. They added that the Iranian army movement might be an effort “to secure Iran’s weapons from a potential American strike, or put them in positions to launch their own attacks against US targets.”
The officials pointed out that Washington was also on high alert for “potential attacks specifically against US locations in Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.”
On Monday, the US Maritime Administration warned commercial vessels operating in the Middle East that of what it described as “the possibility of Iranian action against US maritime interests in the region.”
The US Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced yesterday that the US was closely monitoring Iran’s activity. “We are watching them [Iranian forces] very closely; we see their movements,” he said.
The US drone strike on Friday that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani has sharply escalated tensions with Iran, raising fears of all-out conflict. Washington says it killed Soleimani in self-defence, aiming to disrupt his plans to attack US personnel and interests. It accused him of plotting an earlier embassy attack in Iraq and planning to carry out attacks on US diplomats and service members in Iraq and the region.
US-Iran relations was first strained in 2018 after the US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew Washington from a 2015 nuclear pact signed with the world powers and Tehran.