Iran launches drones at Israel in retaliatory attack

By and is republished with permission

US President Joe Biden is cutting short a weekend stay at his Delaware beach house and returning to the White House to meet with his national security team and monitor the situation in the Middle East.

Soon after the White House announced the change of plans, the Pentagon reported that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had spoken with his Israeli counterpart “to discuss urgent regional threats… and made clear that Israel could count on full US support to defend Israel against any attacks by Iran and its regional proxies”.

Amid the Israel-Hamas war, tensions have escalated since a suspected Israeli strike this month on an Iranian consular building in Syria killed 12 people, including senior Iranian generals.

Israel is bracing for a possible Iranian attack, raising concerns about the United States being pulled into deeper regional conflict.

Biden earlier said the United States was “devoted” to defending Israel and that “Iran will not succeed”.

Asked by reporters what his message was for Iran, the president’s only reply was: “Don’t.”

He ignored a question about what would trigger a direct US military response, and when asked how imminent an Iranian attack on Israel was, Biden said he did not want to get into secure information, “but my expectation is sooner than later”.

During the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, there have been near-daily exchanges of fire between Israeli forces and the Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group along the Israel-Lebanon border.

US officials have recorded more than 150 attacks by Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria on US forces at bases in those countries since war started on October 7.

One attack in late January killed three US service members in Jordan. In retaliation, the US launched a massive air assault, hitting more than 85 targets at seven locations in Iraq and Syria.

Meanwhile, overnight, commandos from Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard rappelled from a helicopter onto an Israeli-affiliated container ship near the Strait of Hormuz and seized the vessel.

National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the US strongly condemned the seizure and urged Iran to release the ship and crew immediately.

“We will work with our partners to hold Iran to account for its actions,” she said.

Also overnight, the Israeli-occupied West Bank also saw some of the worst violence since Hamas’ attack on Israel.

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