Fresh intelligence points to Iranian threat against US forces and interests in Middle East, officials say

There is fresh intelligence of a potential Iranian threat against US forces and interests in the Middle East, according to several US defense and administration officials. CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr reports.

Posted: Dec 4, 2019 4:00 AM
Updated: Dec 4, 2019 4:00 AM

There is fresh intelligence of a potential Iranian threat against US forces and interests in the Middle East, according to several US defense and administration officials.

"There has been consistent intelligence in the last several weeks," one administration official told CNN.

A second official described it as information that has been gathered throughout November. The information is being gathered by military and intelligence agencies.

The officials would not say in what format the intelligence exists. But in the last several weeks there has been movement of Iranian forces and weapons that the US worries could be put in place for a potential attack, if one is ordered by the Iranian regime, the officials said. It's not clear if a potential threat would come from the central government or Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The head of US military operations in the Middle East recently signaled the US expects some kind of Iranian action in response to the US sanctions and pressure campaign that is trying to get the regime to abandon its nuclear program.

"I would expect that if we look at the past three or four months, it's possible they will do something that is irresponsible. It's possible that they'll lash out at their neighbors," Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, head of the US Central Command, told an audience in Bahrain at the time. "It is not going to be productive for them in the long term to choose to act out in the military domain. That's the message that we're trying to convey."

The Pentagon did allow the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln to enter the Persian Gulf and conduct a port visit in Bahrain during the Thanksgiving holiday. But officials said specific precautions were taken, given the threat, although they would not say what those precautions were.

The carrier is now expected to stay in the region until the next carrier, the USS Harry S. Truman, moves closer, from its current position in the eastern Atlantic Ocean.

Officials were adamant the intelligence has been gathered solely as part of the continuous monitoring by the US and has nothing to do with President Donald Trump's political concerns over the impeachment inquiry. The intelligence has moved through professional military and intelligence channels, and it is not clear whether Trump has yet been briefed on it in detail.

There is also not a full US understanding of to what extent the current unrest in Iran may be playing a role in the regime's decision making.

The US has said the Iranians conducted several provocations against commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf earlier this year and was also responsible for a massive drone attack on Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure. That led to the deployment of fighter jets and anti-missile systems to Saudi Arabia. The two countries are still discussing the exact monetary amount Saudi Arabia will reimburse the US for that deployment of protective forces.

While not commenting on the current intelligence, Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a Pentagon spokeswoman, told CNN, "We continue to closely monitor the activities of the regime in Iran, its military and its proxies, and we are well postured to defend US forces and interests as needed."

Several weeks ago, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters the administration was pleased to see a "downtick" in overt Iranian actions in the region and that the administration wanted to send a signal "that the path forward is through diplomacy," but the military is "prepared to act as need be."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 308111

Reported Deaths: 7122
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20826248
Hinds19910411
Harrison17510302
Rankin13334276
Jackson13118243
Madison9908210
Lee9871170
Jones8297160
Forrest7525147
Lauderdale7198237
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Lamar611084
Lafayette6039117
Washington5281133
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Warren4284118
Marshall4276100
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Monroe4061132
Union403975
Neshoba3994176
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Tate322782
Pike3188104
Scott310872
Yazoo304468
Alcorn298065
Itawamba297177
Copiah293265
Coahoma289778
Simpson288284
Tippah284868
Prentiss275759
Marion266079
Leake261373
Wayne261341
Grenada255384
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Adams246082
Newton245161
George238147
Winston225981
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Attala213473
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Holmes186872
Clay182854
Stone179331
Clarke177076
Tallahatchie175540
Calhoun163531
Yalobusha159236
Smith158834
Walthall130643
Greene129433
Lawrence126423
Noxubee126233
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120926
Amite120141
Webster113532
Jefferson Davis105432
Tunica102725
Claiborne101330
Benton97325
Kemper95428
Humphreys94332
Franklin82123
Quitman78916
Choctaw73417
Wilkinson64928
Jefferson64828
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 520503

Reported Deaths: 10722
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson754091487
Mobile38938798
Madison33898495
Tuscaloosa25297443
Montgomery23992567
Shelby23124239
Baldwin20652300
Lee15541165
Calhoun14301311
Morgan14145270
Etowah13665346
Marshall11967219
Houston10381278
Elmore10001200
Limestone9822147
Cullman9481188
St. Clair9435234
Lauderdale9223227
DeKalb8748181
Talladega8071171
Walker7100275
Jackson6762110
Autauga6734103
Blount6497135
Colbert6210130
Coffee5404112
Dale4766110
Russell429038
Franklin419982
Chilton4087109
Covington4056114
Tallapoosa3898146
Escambia388574
Dallas3531149
Chambers3503122
Clarke346560
Marion3066100
Pike305876
Lawrence295395
Winston272572
Bibb256459
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens233059
Barbour225255
Hale218775
Butler212566
Fayette209260
Henry187744
Cherokee182144
Randolph176941
Monroe172040
Washington164238
Macon154848
Clay149555
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146241
Lamar139334
Lowndes136553
Wilcox124327
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Coosa99328
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