The United States military has deployed the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz to the Persian Gulf alongside other warships in order to provide ‘combat support and air cover’ for soldiers withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The deployment comes as tensions in the region have ratcheted up following the assassination on Friday of a top scientist who headed Iran’s nuclear program.
The decision to deploy the Nimitz to the Persian Gulf was made before the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi – a physics professor and former officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
Iran on Friday accused Israel of trying to provoke a war by assassinating Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, whom Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had named as the father of the rogue nation’s nuclear program.
One American official and two other intelligence officials confirmed to the New York Times that Israel was behind the attack.
Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi was killed in an ambush involving an explosion and then machine gun fire on the road between the countryside town of Absard and the capital of Tehran.
Iranian state TV said explosives hidden in a pickup exploded in front of the car, scattering debris hundreds of yards, before up to six gunmen emerged from another car and opened fire, the Times reported.
Those wounded in the attack were rushed to a local hospital but medics were unable to revive Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi.
Iran said there are ‘serious indications of Israeli responsibility’ in the assassination, saying it reserves the right to defend itself.
In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the U.N. Security Council on Friday, Iranian envoy, Majid Takht Ravanchi wrote: ‘Warning against any adventuristic measures by the United States and Israel against my country, particularly during the remaining period of the current administration of the United States in office, the Islamic Republic of Iran reserves its rights to take all necessary measures to defend its people and secure its interests.’
The Trump administration has set a January 15 deadline for the US military to draw down its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Israel has reportedly been pushing for the outgoing Trump administration to deal a heavy blow to Iran’s nuclear program by bombing key reactors.
But Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is said to have met in secret with Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last Sunday, is reluctant to go along with the plan, Middle East Eye reported.
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Source: Daily Mail