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US Commander Says Mideast Buildup Prompted Iran 'Step Back'

US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress assigned to the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, and the US Navy carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, conduct joint exercises in the US Central Command area of responsibility in Arabian sea, June 1, 2019. (Staff Sgt. Erin Piazza/US Air Force.

The top commander of U.S. forces in the Mideast says Iran appears to have decided to "step back and recalculate" in response to a U.S. military buildup in the Persian Gulf area.

Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie says it's too early to conclude Iran has abandoned plans for potential attacks against American interests that prompted the buildup last month.

McKenzie told reporters Thursday that he is assessing Iran's stance. He says he would not rule out requesting more forces to bolster American defenses.

McKenzie said Iran and its proxies posed what he called an "advanced and imminent" threat to U.S. forces when he asked on May 5 for authority to accelerate the deployment of an aircraft carrier and send four strategic bombers to the Gulf area.