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US deploys 6 B-52 bombers to Diego Garcia in Indian Ocean after Soleimani strike

FOX News logo FOX News 1/7/2020 Vandana Rambaran
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The U.S. Air Force is deploying six B-52 bombers to Diego Garcia, an island base in the Indian Ocean, amid the rising threat of Iran retaliating after a U.S.-led airstrike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

The move, which was first reported by CNN, is the latest in efforts by U.S. military officials to bolster resources near the Middle East after the Iraqi Shia militia Kataib Hezbollah hinted at possible retaliatory attacks to avenge Soleimani's death.

a group of people in a room: Insight from Fox News national security analyst Dr. Walid Phares. © Insight from Fox News national security analyst Dr. Walid Phares.

The B-52 bombs were reportedly spotted being transported from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana to Diego Garcia, which is located 2,300 miles south of Iran’s southernmost tip and ample striking distance for bombers who refuel in mid-air. The aircraft have have eight engines and are designed to carry a large cache of weapons including cruise missiles, conventional and laser-guided bombs, and nuclear gravity bombs.

The U.S. military had previously sent a bomber task force to Qatar in May, but the bombers left after a few months, a U.S. defense official said.

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On Monday, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, attempted to quell confusion about a letter circulating from the U.S. military telling Iraq that it would withdraw troops from the region a day after  Iraqi lawmakers approved a resolution calling to expel U.S. troops from the country.

Both Esper and Milley called the unsigned letter a mistake and said the U.S. has no intention of withdrawing troops from the Middle East as tensions ramp up. Instead, Milley told reporters the U.S. military is bringing in reinforcements from Kuwait and beefing up helicopter force protection inside Iraq, particularly in the heavily fortified Green Zone, which has been bombarded with rocket attacks over the past three days.


Fox News' Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report. 


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