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While Trump dismissed a report in The New York Times that the White House is reviewing military plans against Iran that could result in sending 120,000 U.S. troops to the Mideast if Iran attacks U.S. forces or steps up work on nuclear weapons, he said if the U.S. were going to get into a military conflict with Iran, "we'd send a hell of a lot more" troops. The latest in a series of terror-linked violence was a multiple drone attack which hit Aramco oil stations in each of the Al Duawadimi and Afif districts in Riyadh.

The broadcaster also reported that a second letter was sent by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - to both the Security Council and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres - regarding alleged acts of "sabotage" carried out Sunday against four ships off the coast of Fujairah (one of the UAE's seven emirates).

Saudi Arabia's state-owned energy company Aramco has since stopped pumping oil through a major pipeline.

Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, is likely to raise its production much more cautiously than a year ago when production from the Kingdom rose to record highs above 11 million bpd in November after calls from Trump to replace Iranian barrels.

In 2007 an imminent attack plotted against a backup oil facility in Saudi Arabia's eastern region was thwarted, where a cell of eight people led by a resident in Saudi Arabia was arrested.

Saudi Arabia said its two tankers suffered "significant damage" but there was no oil spill.

The Trump administration's sanctions are created to choke off Iran's oil exports, its main source of revenues, in an effort to force Iran to accept more stringent limits on its nuclear and missile programs.

The United States also is deploying an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers into the region in response to the still-unspecified Iran threat, further ramping up tensions a year after President Donald Trump withdrew America from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers. "It is easy to throw accusations but it is a hard situation, there are serious issues and among them is Iranian behavior", he said, mentioning concern about Iran's missiles and regional policy. "We have been bullied by Iran, we have seen aggressive Iranian actions in the region". Satellite images obtained Tuesday by the AP from Colorado-based Maxar Technologies showed no visible damage to the vessels, and Gulf officials have refused to say who they suspected was responsible.

Responding to the event, Mr Philippe told a French parliamentary session on Tuesday: "These acts of sabotage ... against four ships in the Arabian sea and near the UAE's territorial waters are obviously preoccupying".

- A senior military officer in the US -backed coalition fighting the Islamic State group says "there's been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria".

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said that "extremist individuals" in the US government were pursuing unsafe policies and that Tehran is not seeking confrontation.

Also Tuesday, Spain temporarily pulled one of its frigates that was part of a US -led fleet from near the Persian Gulf because of the mounting tensions.

Net U.S. crude imports fell last week by 106,000 barrels per day.


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