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US Military: Qatar Regional Spat Has 'No Impact' on Operations

FILE - U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, center, is greeted by military dignitaries as he arrives at Al-Udeid Air Base in Doha, Qatar, April 21, 2017.

The U.S. military says diplomatic tensions between Qatar and five other Middle East countries has had "no impact" on coalition operations in the region.

"U.S. military aircraft continue to conduct missions in support of ongoing operations in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan," Pentagon spokesman Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway told VOA on Monday.

"We have no plans to change our posture in Qatar," he added.

He told VOA the United States and the U.S.-led coalition are "grateful" to the Qataris for their "longstanding support" of America's presence and their "enduring commitment to regional security."

In an interview with VOA's sister station, Al-Hurra, Rankine-Galloway said the U.S. military has seen "no impact so far" on operations out of Qatar.

And speaking in Sydney, Australia, Defense Secretary James Mattis insisted the regional tensions will not undermine the fight against Islamic State in the future.

"I am confident there will be no implications," Mattis said.

U.S. officials have encouraged all partners in the region to reduce tensions, and Rankine-Galloway said the U.S. would be "happy to play a role" in getting all sides to the negotiating table.

Defense officials say there are around 80,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines across the Middle East.

Largest U.S. military presence in Middle East

U.S. service members are located at two bases in Qatar, the sprawling Al-Udeid Air Base and the tiny As-Sayliyah Army Base, which U.S. Central Command uses to preposition materiel used in regional operations.

Al-Udeid is home to the largest U.S. military presence in the region. The base hosts 10,000 U.S. service members and is considered both the forward headquarters of United States Central Command and the headquarters of United States Air Forces Central Command.

Two of the five countries involved in the political spat with Qatar also have a large U.S. military presence.

Navy officials told VOA that 5,000 U.S. military personnel serve at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain.

Al-Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates hosts about 4,000 U.S. military personnel, according to UAE officials.

Officials say American military aircraft have not been affected by travel restrictions imposed during the political tension.

"The movement of U.S. aircraft has not been impeded in any way," Rankine-Galloway told VOA.

There are a handful of U.S. service members training Saudi forces in multiple bases in Saudi Arabia. In Egypt, American service members are part of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), which supervise the implementation of the Egyptian-Israeli Treaty of Peace.

Rather than basing any U.S. troops in Yemen, American operations carried out there usually originate at Camp Lemonnier, a base located across the Bab el-Mandeb Strait in the tiny African nation of Djibouti.