US soldiers told to prepare for Gaza war: Report

US Air Force personnel in Iraq have been ordered to remain on standby in case of the US involvement in the Israel war on the besieged Gaza Strip, The Intercept has reported, citing a Pentagon memo.

Circulated earlier this month, the memo instructs an unknown number of troops to be placed “on standby to forward deploy to support troops in the case of on ground US involvement in the Israel Hamas war”, the news site reported.

The standby order applies to troops stationed in Iraq since last year, according to a separate Pentagon document seen by The Intercept.

The White House has stated on several occasions since October that its support for Tel Aviv would not involve American soldiers fighting alongside their Israeli counterparts.

The US responded to Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel by immediately dispatching two aircraft carriers to the region and preparing 2,000 additional troops for deployment to the Middle East, but White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on October 10 that “there is no intention to put US boots on the ground” in Israel or Gaza.

However, US special forces have been active in Israel since October, with senior official Christopher Maier telling reporters at the time that American commandos were “actively helping the Israelis to do a number of things”. The Pentagon has also admitted to flying spy drones over Gaza “in support of hostage recovery efforts”.

Since the conflict began, US troops in Iraq, Syria, and Jordan have come under fire more than 150 times, with armed groups subjecting their bases to regular drone and rocket barrages. One such attack on an outpost in Jordan on Sunday killed three US soldiers and injured several dozen others.

American ships and warplanes have also launched several strikes against Houthi militants in Yemen, in a bid to break the Houthi blockade on “Israel-linked” merchant shipping passing through the Red Sea. The Houthis have responded by targeting US commercial and military vessels in the area.

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