United States officials on Thursday denied a report claiming the U.S. was considering deploying up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East.
In a statement, Pentagon Press Secretary Alyssa Farah said Defense Secretary Mark Esper spoke earlier in the day to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, telling him "we are not considering sending 14,000 additional troops to the Middle East at this time."
The U.S. is constantly assessing the threat situation around the world, said Farah, adding "we adjust our force posture and troop levels based on adversary action and the dynamic security situation."
The Pentagon's statement came a day after The Wall Street Journal reported that the Trump administration was mulling the expansion of America's military footprint in the Middle East to counter Iran.
"The deployment could double the number of U.S. military personnel who have been sent to the region since the start of a troop buildup in May," said the Journal, citing U.S. officials.
The U.S. has nearly 800 military bases around the world, and according to the U.S. Central Command, there are between 60,000 and 70,000 U.S. soldiers in the Middle East.
U.S. President Donald Trump has declined to confirm or deny reports that he is mulling the possibility of sending thousands of more troops to the Middle East to counter alleged threats from Iran.
"There might be a threat and if there is a threat, it will be met very strongly. But we'll be announcing whatever we may be doing-may or may not be doing," Trump said when asked about additional troop deployments.
Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood said Wednesday that the U.S. remains concerned about potential Iranian aggression, according to The Hill website.
"We also continue to see indications ... potential Iranian aggression could occur," Rood was quoted as telling reporters in Washington. "We've sent very clear and blunt signals to the Iranian government about the potential consequences of aggression."
Iran has been mired in mass demonstrations, for which it blames foreign powers, particularly the U.S., for fomenting.
Demonstrations broke out across Iran on Nov. 15 after the government imposed petrol rationing and raised fuel prices by at least 50%.
Over 2,000 people have been arrested during the demonstrations, Tehran Gov. Anoushirvan Mohseni-Bandpey said Tuesday.
While Iranian authorities have not publicly acknowledged any deaths from the protests, Amnesty International said at least 208 protesters have been killed.
Trump continued to criticize Tehran for the deaths, while hosting U.N. permanent representatives at the White House, saying that Iranian authorities were "killing protesters."
Tensions have flared between Washington and Tehran since Trump chose in May 2018 to unilaterally remove the U.S. from a nuclear pact that world powers struck with Iran that provided the Islamic Republic with billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for unprecedented curbs on its nuclear program.
Trump has since gone on to impose crippling sanctions on Iran and its top officials, further angering Tehran as the U.S. president seeks to bring it back to the negotiating table.
Iran downed a U.S. drone in June that it says violated its airspace, while the Trump administration has maintained it was above international waters when it was downed.
The U.S. further blamed Iran for coordinating drone attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil production facilities in September.