The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and a bomber task force are heading to the Middle East accompanied by stern words delivered to Iran by National Security Advisor John Bolton.
In a statement released Sunday night, Bolton said the moves were made in response to “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings,” ABC reported.
“The United States is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the U.S. Central Command region to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force,” Bolton said in a statement, according to Reuters.
“The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces,” the statement continued.
A U.S. defense official tells @AP the deployments of an aircraft carrier strike group and land-based bombers to the Middle East are in response to indications that Iran and its proxy forces were preparing to possibly attack U.S. forces in the region. https://t.co/SSdmsBshIq
— The Associated Press (@AP) May 6, 2019
The Abraham Lincoln is currently in the Mediterranean Sea.
“It’s something we’ve been working on for a little while,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a trip to Europe, according to ABC.
“It is absolutely the case that we have seen escalatory actions from the Iranians, and it is equally the case that we will hold the Iranians accountable for attacks on American interests,” he said.
Pompeo did not give specifics about Iran’s plans, ABC reported.
But according to The New York Times, Pompeo said the U.S. will hold Iran responsible for attacks even if the Islamic Republic is not directly involved.
“The fact that those actions take place, if they do, by some third-party proxy, whether that’s a Shia militia group or the Houthis or Hezbollah, we will hold the Iranians — Iranian leadership — directly accountable for that,” Pompeo said, The Times reported.
In a Twitter post Monday, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio agreed.
“We will not distinguish between attacks from Shia militias in #Iraq and the #IRGC that controls them,” Rubio wrote. “Any attack by these groups against U.S. forces will be considered an attack by #Iran & responded to accordingly.”
Any attack by these groups against U.S. forces will be considered an attack by #Iran & responded to accordingly.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 6, 2019
According to Politico, Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies said there is “real concern in the administration and among allies, including Israel, that the regime in Iran is preparing to strike U.S. interests or U.S. allies.”
Dubowitz said the U.S. action comes amid a “significant uptick in warnings about preparations by [the Iranian] regime for strikes against U.S. assets and allies — I’ve been hearing about this for days.”
Concerns about activity by Iran or its supporters are linked to the recent unrest in Gaza, Dubowitz said, according to Politico.
Over the weekend, militants in Gaza fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, killing at least one Israeli man, The Associated Press reported. Israel responded with airstrikes on more than 350 targets, killing at least 23 Palestinians, according to AP.
#Gaza launched over 400 rockets into Israel. This is just the first 90. Don’t wish to be attacked back? Stop launching rockets into Israel. I stand with Israel. ???????????????????? pic.twitter.com/ern3Air2Vf
— Caryn Broome (@carynbroome) May 5, 2019
Also this week, the U.S. is set to announce new sanctions against Iran, Axios reported.
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