As tensions with Iran ease, the Biden administration is working to get US forces back to a more normal basis, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The Biden administration is withdrawing Patriot missile batteries from four Middle Eastern countries as the United States shrinks its military footprint in the region amid easing tensions with Iran, US media reported on Friday.
The Pentagon is withdrawing approximately eight Patriot anti-missile batteries from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as a High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) from Saudi Arabia that had been deployed by the previous administration Trump, reported the Wall Street Journal. citing anonymous US officials.
The redeployment includes hundreds of US troops operating the systems and began earlier this month following a June 2 phone call in which US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin briefed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of change, according to the Journal.
The withdrawal of anti-missile batteries marks a return to a more normal level of defense in the region where the United States continues to maintain tens of thousands of troops even as it has reduced the forces deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, reported the Journal.
“We still have our bases in the countries of our Gulf partners, they are not closing, there is still a substantial presence, a substantial position in the region,” a senior defense official told the Journal.
United States deployed Patriot anti-missile batteries and troops in Saudi Arabia after Iranian drone attacks hit Saudi oil facilities and in Iraq in 2020 after a series of missile and rocket attacks against US forces by Iran and Iran-backed militias.
The US military has recognized that more than 109 American soldiers had suffered concussions and other brain injuries in an Iranian ballistic missile attack on the Ain al-Assad military base in Iraq following the US airstrike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.
President Joe Biden, who took over from former President Donald Trump in January, has sought to defuse tensions in the Middle East, and US diplomats have engaged in indirect talks with Iran over relaunching the Iran nuclear deal .
American and Iranian diplomats engaged in a sixth round of talks in Vienna earlier this month as Iran plans to join the 2015 agreement banning it from obtaining nuclear weapons in exchange for easing US economic sanctions.
Trump unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and instituted a campaign of “maximum pressure” on Tehran which Biden officials said failed to meet the targets and had the effect of accelerating the Iran’s nuclear development.
The Iranians were vote friday a new president to replace outgoing president Hassan Rouhani who defended the nuclear deal with the United States in 2015.