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Friday, May 24, 2024

If you strike back at Iran, you will fight alone – US tells Israel

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As Israel contemplates its reaction to Iran’s recent attacks over the weekend, the United States has conveyed in private discussions that if Israel chooses to retaliate militarily, it will be acting independently without direct U.S. involvement, according to ABC News.

It’s an unusual message for a close ally that’s spent decades receiving more US military aid than any other country in the world and whose relationship with America is often described as “ironclad.”

But after months of Israel acting on its own in Gaza – and facing tough criticism from the U.S. and other allies that its military operations have gone too far – the Biden administration made clear the U.S. wouldn’t participate in offensive military operations against Iran, fearing a broader war in the Middle East.

“We believe Israel has freedom of action to protect itself and defend itself,” a senior administration official told reporters shortly after Iran’s attack ended. “That’s a long-standing policy, and that remain.

When asked by a reporter if the U.S. would help Israel counter with offensive military operations, the official said no.

“We would not envision ourselves participating in such a thing,” this person said.

According to a second U.S. official, that message was also delivered directly to Israel’s top officials in a private phone call Sunday between Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

In addition to expressing support for Israel’s defense, the official said Austin made clear in a very “direct” manner that the U.S. was not planning to join a potential counteroffensive on Israel’s behalf.

Iran’s attack on Israel late Saturday had deeply rattled world leaders, including U.S. officials who initially thought the Islamic Republic had readied only a dozen or so ballistic missiles. One senior U.S. official described their hand “trembling” while taking notes in a meeting upon learning that U.S. intelligence believed more than 100 ballistic missiles were being prepared for launch.

The attack was considered retaliation for a military strike on what Iran called its consulate in Damascus, Syria, widely believed to be Israel’s doing.

Meanwhile, at least nine Iranian missiles, which Israeli air defense failed to intercept, struck two of the regime’s air bases and caused damage, a senior American official told ABC News.

Five ballistic missiles hit the Nevatim Air Base, damaging a C-130 transport aircraft, said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity with the New York-based ABC News on Sunday.

The official also said that four more ballistic missiles hit the Negev Air Base, but added that there were no reports of “significant” damage.

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