The USS Nimitz aircraft carrier is steaming back to the Persian Gulf region to provide backup for troops being pulled out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

It will be arriving in the Middle East days after Iran’s top nuclear scientist was killed in an ambush that Tehran has blamed on Israel, but the Pentagon said it was President Trump’s withdrawal of troops in the two countries that spurred the deployment of the aircraft carrier and its flotilla of ships back to the gulf, where it had been for much of the fall.

The carrier’s strike group left its home base of Bremerton, Washington, in April, and most recently engaged in exercises this month with vessels from India, Japan and Australia, USA Today reported.

“This action ensures we have sufficient capability available to respond to any threat and to deter any adversary from acting against our troops during the force reduction,” the Pentagon said.

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