The first of 75 U.S. troops have arrived in northeastern Sinai to help boost security for U.S. forces as part of a U.N. observer mission there, the Pentagon said Thursday.
The move comes after several U.S. troops were wounded in an explosion from an improvised explosive device there last week, an attack the U.S. believes was staged by ISIS militants in the area.
But the Pentagon insists the move, intended to increase security and to address the growing ISIS threat, has been in the works for weeks, and the deployment was not a result of the attack. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter signed the deployment order "just hours before" that attack, a U.S. official said Wednesday.
The troops are being sent from units already in the Middle East, but so far the Pentagon has declined to specify which units are being sent. They will provide additional security and force protection by bringing in armored personnel carriers, additional communications gear, and "enhanced" medical and surgical capabilities, the official said.
As various militants in recent years have moved into Sinai, an area that the U.N. Multinational Force and Observers operates in, the U.S. has been monitoring the security situation. The U.N. force oversees the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.
"We are concerned over security conditions in that area of the northeastern Sinai, where Egyptian security forces, as well as civilian and military elements of the MFO, including U.S. military forces stationed at the MFO north camp, are exposed to potential risk," Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said Wednesday.