WASHINGTON – The United States has seen increasing indications that Iran may be planning an attack on American forces or interests in the Middle East, according to a US official.
The US official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, admitted that reading Iran’s intentions were “difficult and sometimes unpredictable.”
But the official said the indications are being taken seriously. The first anniversary of the US killing of a top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani Just days away.
Soleimani was killed in A. American air strike In Iraq on January 3, 2020, in what the Defense Ministry described as “defensive action” because it claimed that the Iranian Quds Force commander was developing plans to attack the Americans. Iran fired missiles at US forces in Iraq in response to their killing days later.
This week, the United States flew B-52 bombers stationed in Minot, North Dakota, an air base to the Middle East in a “deliberate appearance”, US Central Command He said, In the A second such review of strength This month.
The United States recently accused what it said was an Iranian-backed militia of launching a missile attack on December 20 on Baghdad’s Green Zone, where 21 rockets were fired. No one was injured or killed.
Javad Zarif, Iranian Foreign Minister, in Prof. tweet On Thursday, it objected to the B-52 flights and wrote: “Intelligence from Iraq indicates a plot to justify a pretext for war.”
On December 23, President Donald Trump referred to the missile attack that damaged the US Embassy in the Green Zone chirp: “Some friendly health advice to Iran: If an American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. Think about it.”
“We will be happy to de-escalate,” the US official said on Thursday, adding that amidst the uncertainty, the situation remains closely watched.
The tensions come weeks before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in, and the Iranian regime has sent clear signals that it wants US sanctions to be lifted – something the attack could put at risk.
Also Thursday, the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz Ordered to return To its home in the United States after its 10-month deployment to the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, the Pentagon said.
Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller told NBC News in a statement late Thursday, “We continue to closely monitor Iran.”
“While I hope to enter 2021 peacefully and without conflict, the ministry is ready to defend the American people and their interests,” he said.
Phil Helsell Contributed.