Monday, May 27, 2024

‘Matter of when, not if’: US intel says Iran attack on Israel is imminent

Must read

‘Iran could launch strikes using high-precision drones and missiles targeting Israeli government and military sites,’ media reports say

The United States (US) believes that a major Iranian attack on Israel is imminent and could take place in the coming days, said a report published on Wednesday, as Iran repeated its vow to retaliate for an alleged Israeli strike in Syria that killed several Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officers, including two generals.

Citing sources familiar with Israeli and US intelligence assessments, Bloomberg reported that Iran could launch strikes using high-precision drones and missiles targeting Israeli government and military sites. One of the people quoted by Bloomberg said that Tehran attacking Israel was a matter of when, not if.

A separate report by the Axios news site reported that General Michael Kurilla, the head of the US Central Command, was expected to visit Israel on Thursday, when he would hold consultations with Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and other officials about the threat of an Iranian attack.

According to the report, US and Israeli officials have been coordinating to prepare for a possible Iranian response to the alleged Israeli strike on April 1 that targeted an Iranian consulate building in Damascus where a number of IRGC members were located.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden reiterated his country’s commitment to Israeli security. Speaking at a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the White House, Biden said on Wednesday that “(we) also addressed the Iranian threat, as they threaten to launch a significant attack on Israel. As I told Prime Minister Netanyahu, our commitment to Israel’s security against these threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad.”

Biden added, “Let me say it again, ironclad. We’re going to do all we can to protect Israel’s security.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also underscored American support for Israel during a call on Wednesday with Defence Minister Gallant, stating that the US would stand with Israel against threats from Tehran.

Separately, an American official told Al Jazeera that the US would assist in defending Israel if it was attacked by Iran or its proxies. The official added that if the attack involved drones or missiles, US forces could help in intercepting them. The official also said that the US had not ruled out launching a joint response with Israel against Iran or its allies if they attacked.

Meanwhile, Mehr, Iran’s semi-official news agency, reported late Wednesday that Iran had suspended all air traffic over its capital, Tehran, from midnight local time because of “military drills”. The report had quoted the Iranian defence minister. However, The Times of Israel reported that the news agency swiftly removed the report from its channel on microblogging platform X. In a new post, it even denied that it had published such news.

Earlier on Wednesday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said in Tehran that “the evil regime made a mistake and must be punished, and it shall be,” referring to the attack in Damascus that was allegedly carried out by Israel and which killed seven IRGC members, including two generals.

One of the IRGC members killed was Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior commander in the Quds Force, the IRGC’s foreign arm. Reza led its operations in Syria.

The Times of Israel reported that following Khamenei’s speech, Israeli Defence Minister Gallant and Foreign Minister Israel Katz said that if Iran launched a strike from its own soil, Israel would strike back inside Iran.      

First Published: Apr 11 2024 | 9:54 AM IST

Latest article