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How does the United States help Israel defend itself against Iranian attacks?

WASHINGTON — Iranian attacks on Israel on Saturday (April 13) using hundreds of drones and missiles, capping a tense two weeks of a whirlwind diplomatic and military effort by the United States to respond to the violent conflict.

The United States was already preparing after Tehran repeatedly threatened to retaliate for an Israeli attack on its consulate in Damascus earlier this month that killed two senior officials. U.S. military aircraft and warships shot down dozens of drones and missiles aimed at Israel during Iran’s attack on Saturday.

On Sunday afternoon, Washington time, senior U.S. officials detailed Washington’s military and diplomatic role in countering Iranian attacks.

Iranian Attacks

The media quoted a senior US military official as saying that Iran launched more than 100 medium-range ballistic missiles, more than 30 land-attack cruise missiles, and more than 150 attack drones towards Israel.

Two U.S. warships, the USS Arleigh Burke and the USS Carney, destroyed 4 to 6 ballistic missiles, and U.S. military aircraft shot down more than 70 Iranian missiles. Man-machine. The U.S. Central Command issued a statement on Monday local time saying that the U.S. military shot down more than 80 Iranian drones and destroyed at least six ballistic missiles fired at Israel from Iran and Yemen.

U.S. military officials also said a Patriot missile air defense system shot down a ballistic missile aimed at Israel in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil.

President Joe Biden was in the White House Situation Room Saturday night to receive live updates on the attack. President Biden also mentioned incidents in which U.S. troops help intercept missiles and drones in his statement Saturday night.

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Describing the tense atmosphere at the time, a senior administration official said, “At one point we knew there were more than 100 ballistic missiles in the sky,” and “the outcome of the defense will certainly not be clear until the dust settles.”

Fuse

On April 1, Israel carried out an attack on the Iranian Consulate in Damascus, killing seven Iranian Revolutionary Guards personnel, including two senior generals, and Tehran warned that it would respond.

The media quoted a senior US government official as saying that the United States had already been informed of the details. “We were not involved in that attack,” but “we knew it would have an impact,” the official said.

Days later, Biden directed administration officials to “defend Israel to the greatest extent possible” and ensure all necessary authorities and assets are in place.

America’s Preparations

Ahead of the attack, U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, were in “continuous and ongoing engagement” with Israel and other countries in the Middle East.

Gen. Erik Kurilla, the top U.S. military commander for the region, was dispatched to the Middle East to provide real-time updates and coordinate with Israel and other partners.

The senior administration official said the United States has also been in contact with Iran and has “sent a series of direct communications through Swiss channels.”

A U.S. defense official said last week that Washington has also deployed more military assets in the Middle East “to enhance regional deterrence efforts and enhance the protection of U.S. troops.” The United States now has about 40,000 troops stationed in the Middle East.

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Next Steps

Since the latest round of conflict between Israel and Hamas began six months ago, the U.S. goal has been to prevent the conflict from escalating into a wider regional conflict. Washington hopes to de-escalate conflicts in the Middle East.

“We would not be involved in any response that they do,” the senior administration official said of possible actions by Israel following the attack. “We would not imagine ourselves being involved in such an action.”

He said Israel “has made it clear to us that they do not want a major escalation with Iran,” but “a big question is not just what Israel will choose to do, but what Israel might choose to do,” the official said.

Israeli officials insist there will be a response, but Israel’s war cabinet appears divided over how and appropriately it should respond.

President Biden said Saturday that Israel has now demonstrated its strength to Iran and its proxies. According to media analysis, Biden’s remarks seemed to imply that Israel should not retaliate against Tehran because Washington is worried about being dragged into another Middle East war.

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