Biden returns to Washington to meet with the national security team amid tensions in the Middle East

(Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

Biden returns to Washington to meet with the national security team amid tensions in the Middle East


Michelle L. Price and Zeke Miller

April 13, 2024

President Biden broke a weekend retreat at his beach house in Delaware and will return to the White House on Saturday to meet with his national security team and monitor the situation in the Middle East.

Shortly after the White House announced the change in plans, the Pentagon reported that Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III had met with his Israeli counterpart to discuss pressing regional threats… and made clear that Israel could count on full American support to defend Israel. against possible attacks by Iran and its regional allies.

Amid the war between Israel and Hamas, tensions have escalated since a suspected Israeli attack this month on an Iranian consular building in Syria killed 12 people, including senior Iranian generals. Israel is bracing for a possible Iranian attack, raising concerns about the United States becoming drawn into a deeper regional conflict.

Biden said Friday that the United States is “dedicated to defending Israel and that Iran will not fail to do so.”

When asked by reporters what his message was for Iran, the president’s only answer was: don’t do it.

He ignored a question about what a direct US military response would provoke, and when asked how threatening an Iranian attack on Israel was, Biden said he didn’t want to get into secure information, but my expectation is sooner rather than later.

During the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, firefights have occurred almost daily between Israeli forces and the Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah along the Israel-Lebanon border.

U.S. officials have recorded more than 150 attacks by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria against U.S. troops at bases in those countries since the war began on Oct. 1. On September 7, Hamas militants attacked southern Israel, causing deaths

at least approximately

1,200 people and about 240 hostages.

An attack in late January by Iranian-backed militias killed three American soldiers in Jordan. In retaliation, the US launched a massive airstrike, hitting more than 85 targets in seven locations in Iraq and Syria.

Meanwhile, commandos from Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guards landed from a helicopter on an Israeli-linked container ship near the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday and seized the vessel.

National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the US strongly condemned the seizure and urged Iran to immediately release the ship and crew.

We will work with our partners to hold Iran accountable for its actions, she said.

Also on Saturday, the Israeli-occupied West Bank saw the worst violence since Hamas’s attack on Israel.

Associated Press writer Price reported from Reboth Beach, Del., and Miller from Washington.


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