The U.S. Department of Defense is considering a U.S. military request to send about 5,000 additional troops to the Middle East amid increasing tensions with Iran, two U.S. officials told Reuters on Wednesday.
But it was not clear whether the White House would approve sending all or just some of the requested defensive forces, as well as additional Patriot missile batteries and more ships.
US officials said the Iranian threat to USA forces continues even as Iran has pulled back some weapons systems.
Trump, who has been focused on trying to reduce the number of USA troops deployed around the world, spoke shortly before he was to be briefed at the White House on a new deployment plan by acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
On the same day, Iran gave nuclear deal signatories - France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, China and the European Union - an ultimatum, saying it would step up uranium enrichment in 60 days if they did not shield Tehran from sanctions imposed by the United States after Washington quit the pact previous year.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have been steadily escalating in recent weeks, as Trump tightens sanctions meant to cut off Iran's ability to sell oil on global markets.
The Pentagon regularly receives, and declines, requests from combatant commands throughout the world for additional resources, according to Reuters.
"As a matter of long-standing policy, we are not going to discuss or speculate on potential future plans and requests for forces", Pentagon spokeswoman Rebecca Rebarich said on May 22. A similar report by Reuters claimed the number is 5,000.
The increased friction between the United States and Iran comes a little more than a year after Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear accord negotiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on May 21 told the media that the Trump administration seeks to prevent further escalation. The new U.S. deployments in the Middle East include a carrier strike group, Patriot missiles, B-52 bombers and F-15 fighters. This is about deterrence, not about war. "We are not about going to war", Shanahan told reporters after briefing USA lawmakers together with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that Iran's youth will witness the demise of Israel and American civilizations.
Last December, Trump announced the withdrawal of 2,000 USA troops from Syria.