Sunday, December 3, 2023

Risk of expanding Middle East conflict is real: US

The US sees an "elevated risk" of a spillover conflict in the Middle East as armed groups continue targeting American troops stationed in the region. Iran denies being behind the strikes.

“We are vigilant, because we are seeing elevated threats against our forces throughout the region and an elevated risk of this conflict spreading to other parts of the region. We are doing everything in our power to deter and prevent that,” US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday.

Last week, the US carried out airstrikes targeting two facilities linked to militias in eastern Syria following a series of drone and rocket attacks against US forces in the region.

The air raids against the facilities did not result in any casualties, the US assessed.

Asked about US strikes on “Iranian proxies” in the region, Sullivan stated on ABC, “If attacks continue, we will respond, and I think the Iranians understand our message.”

“We, of course, are taking every measure necessary to protect our forces, to increase our vigilance and to work with other countries in the region to try to keep this conflict that is currently in Israel and Gaza from spinning out into a regional conflict,” Sullivan added.

“But the risk is real, and therefore, vigilance is high, and the steps that we are taking to deter that and prevent that are serious, systematic and ongoing,” he continued.

US forces have been attacked 20 times throughout Iraq and Syria since October 17, Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder has confirmed in a statement on Friday.

Washington has accused Iran-backed militias, but admitted there is no evidence to pin blame on Tehran’s leadership for ordering the strikes.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has denied that Iran had instructed groups in Syria and Iraq to target US troops in recent days.

He stated it was Washington — not Tehran — that was fanning the violence in the region.

Iran has repeatedly warned the United States against any act of mischief in the region.

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