January 3, 2020 / 6:31 PM / 17 days ago

U.S. defense secretary cancels vacation amid Iran crisis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has canceled plans to take personal leave later in January amid rising tension with Iran, U.S. officials told Reuters on Friday.

The disclosure about Esper’s personal travel plans follows the overnight U.S. air strike against Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force and the second most powerful figure in Iran.

The strike marked a dramatic escalation in tensions between the two countries, which could have broad implications for the Middle East. It was followed with a Pentagon decision to send thousands of additional troops to the Middle East.

Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali; Editing by Chris Reese

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