US deploying more Patriot missiles to Middle East, amid Iranian threats

A US Patriot missile defence system is pictured during the Israeli-US military exercise "Juniper Cobra" at the Hatzor Airforce Base in Israel on March 8, 2018.
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Washington (CNN) -- The US has announced it will deploy additional Patriot missiles to the Middle East after US officials said intelligence indicates Iran and its proxies could be planning to threaten US forces and interests in the Middle East.

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan approved the deployment.

"The Acting Secretary of Defense has approved the movement of USS Arlington and a Patriot Battery to US Central Command as part of the command's original request for forces earlier this week," a Pentagon statement said.

CNN has reported that intelligence has shown that Iran is likely moving short-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles aboard boats in the Persian Gulf. The US military believes that cruise missiles could be launched from the small Iranian boats, which are known as dhows. Officials have said those boats are IRGC naval assets, not regular Iranian navy boats.

The carrier Abraham Lincoln, deployed by US President Donald Trump's administration to the Middle East as a warning to Iran, passed through Egypt's Suez Canal on Thursday and is currently sailing in the Red Sea.

On Friday a defense official reiterated that the Iranian threat "is still real and credible and we're taking it seriously."

The deployment of the Arlington and Patriot missile battery is "meant to be defensive in nature," the official said.

The official and the Pentagon did not disclose where the additional US missiles will be sent but called it a "prudent measure to protect our forces."

The US posturing of forces "provides us with options should deterrence fail and we need to respond," the official added.

CNN reported on Tuesday that the US could send Patriot missile batteries back to the region months after the US had brought some back home due to the threat.

Patriots are air defense missile systems designed to counter and destroy incoming short-range ballistic missiles, advanced aircraft and cruise missiles.

The missiles have networked remote sensors that provide early warning data to increase probability of a successful hit and are currently deployed in multiple locations around the world, including Germany, Japan, South Korea, and the Middle East.

Iran's leaders have said they do not want conflict with the US and a senior commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps said the US would not "dare" attack Iran.

"Negotiations with Americans will not take place, and Americans will not dare to take military action against us," IRGC Lieutenant Commander for Political Affairs Brigadier General Yadollah Javani told the semi-official Tasnim News Agency.

CNN's Nicole Gaouette, Hamdi Alkhshali and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.