During a Senate hearing, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin threatened Iran with retaliation if Iran-backed groups continued to attack American personnel in the Middle East.
At a Senate hearing on President Joe Biden’s proposal for additional funding of $105 billion for Israel, Ukraine, and other national security problems, Austin testified with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. He stressed the significance of ensuring the safety of US personnel and civilians and indicated that the US has taken actions to improve its force protection posture, including the deployment of assets into the region.
After the Pentagon reported that American soldiers were targeted by Iran-backed extremists at least 13 times in the Middle East in the past week, the U.S. maintained its ability to protect itself and has not ruled out retaliation actions.
During a press conference on Tuesday, President Joe Biden warned Iran’s Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah, that “if they continue to advance against those forces, we will respond, and he should be prepared.”
Similarly, Pentagon leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to the right to self-defense. U.S. Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder assured reporters that the country is making plans to protect its forces and to respond forcefully to the current escalation. The United States has already responded militarily to attacks on its sites in Iraq by conducting retaliation bombings against militants with ties to Iran.
U.S. forces have been rapidly deployed to the region to aid Israel in its reaction to Hamas and to prevent other countries, such as Iran and its proxies, from becoming directly involved in the conflict as it develops. Two U.S. sources told ABC News that since October 17, when Iran-backed militias first began attacking Iraq and Syria, roughly 20 American military members had suffered minor injuries, including cuts and tinnitus, as a result of these attacks. The United States holds Iran accountable for supporting these militias through funding and supplies.
The United States has been trying to calm regional tensions before any retaliatory steps are made in the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Foreign Secretary Antony Blinken has stated that the United States does not want a broader battle with Iran.