US sends F-22 fighters to Middle East. Photo by CNN

The United States Air Force dispatched F-22 stealth fighter jets to Qatar for the first time as it beefs up its forces in the Middle East amid escalating tensions with Iran.

Iran Press/America: A statement and photos from US Air Force Central Command said F-22 stealth fighters arrived at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar on Thursday.

"These aircraft are deployed to Qatar for the first time in order to defend American forces and interests in the US Central Command area of responsibility," the Air Force said according to CNN.

The Air Force did not give the total number of F-22s deployed, but a handout picture showed at least five warplanes over the base.

The F-22 movement comes a week after Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) shot down a US RQ-4 spy drone close to the Iranian province of Hormozgan, near the coastline of southern Iran.

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White House in May deployed the aircraft carrier, USS Abraham Lincoln and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf, sharply increasing tensions with Iran, claiming that Iran is threatening US interests in the region -- a claim which Iran has categorically rejected.

The crisis has its root in President Donald Trump’s withdrawal last year from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that limited Iran’s uranium enrichment activities in return for lifting of sanctions against Tehran.

Washington subsequently re-imposed sanctions on Iran after illegally abrogating the multilateral nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018. 101/211/201

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