WASHINGTON – Two US B-52 bombers flew another show-of-force mission to President Trump in the Persian Gulf on Wednesday, a week Warned Iran that it would hold him accountable Administration and military officials accused Tehran of “if an American is killed” in rocket attacks in Iraq.
The 36-hour round-trip mission from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota was the third time in six weeks that Air Force bombers had operated long-haul flights about 60 miles off the Iranian coast, which military officials said To prevent Iran from attacking American troops in the region.
The United States periodically conducts such rapid demonstration missions to the Middle East and Asia to demonstrate American airpower to allies and allies. But tensions are rising before the 3 January anniversary US drone strike that killed Major General Qasim SulemaniIran’s oligarch commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and the Iraqi leader of the Iranian-backed militia – the deaths that Iranian leaders repeatedly insist they have not yet retaliated.
In recent times, US intelligence analysts say they have detected Iranian air security, maritime forces and other security units on high alert. But senior officials of the Department of Defense acknowledge that they cannot tell whether Iran or its Shia supporters in Iraq are preparing to attack or retaliate US troops if Mr. Trump pre-empts an attack against them Order to do, An option that colleagues talked to him about last month, At least for the time being.
The bomber mission on Wednesday, which included US Air Force F-16 fighter aircraft, flew the center of the Persian Gulf and was routed well outside Iranian air space. Officials said American war planes were in the wider Gulf region for about two hours before returning home. The Air Force carried out similar B-52 missions on 21 November and 10 December. There was no immediate response from Iran in these three campaigns.
General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., head of the Pentagon’s Central Command, said in the statement, “We do not seek conflict, but do not let anyone protect our military or undermine our ability to take decisive action in response to any attack.” Must be evaluated. ” Wednesday.
In A twitter post After a meeting with senior officials at the White House last week, Mr. Trump said Iran was behind the rocket attacks on the US embassy in Baghdad on 20 December. “Some Favorable Health Advice for Iran,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “If an American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. think it over.”
Mr. Trump’s post was followed by a statement from the Central Command, which called the 21 107-millimeter rocket-related attacks against US personnel in Iraq the largest in a decade. Senior US military officials said Wednesday that the rocket attacks were carried out by Iranian-backed rogue militia groups, including Qatib Hizbollah, whose leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was killed in a drone strike on 3 January.
Katib Hezbollah has denied any involvement in last week’s rocket attacks, which killed at least one Iraqi civilian and damaged the embassy compound.
Over the past year, Iranian coalition forces in Iraq have conducted more than 50 rocket attacks, with attacks on the US military as well as the US embassy in Baghdad, and 90 attacks on convoys supplying US troops. . Pentagon.
US commanders and diplomats say the attacks are aimed at driving US troops out of Iraq, where Mr Trump has ordered the Pentagon to pull in 2,500 personnel by mid-January.
Tensions had grown significantly on the anniversary of the assassination of General Suleimani in Iraq, where the Trump administration said it was planning an attack on US forces.
Iran responded at the time with missile attacks on targets in Iraq, where US troops were. No one was killed and the immediate crisis subsided, although Iran has said that it did not completely avenge General Suleimani’s death.
last month, A top Iranian scientist, Mohan Fakhrizadeh was killed A day strike east of Tehran is widely believed to have been carried out by Israeli operatives. American and Israeli officials say Mr. Fakhrizadeh was described as Iran’s secret nuclear weapons program.
In the past three weeks, the Central Command has dispatched the attackers, sent an additional squadron of fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, stationed the aircraft carrier Nimitz in the region and publicly announced for the first time in nearly a decade that a Tomahawk-missile-firing submarine was underway.