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Biden vows to defend Israel from Iran's retaliation over Damascus strike

At a funeral in Tehran for IRGC officers killed earlier this week in an Israeli airstrike, IRGC top commander Gen. Hossein Salami reaffirmed Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei’s threat to “punish” Israel.
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the collapse of Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on March 26, 2024 in Washington, DC.

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden assured Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that the United States would defend Israel in case of attack by Iran and its proxies, as the country braces for expected retaliation for airstrikes that killed seven Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officials in Damascus earlier this week.

During a tense phone call on Thursday about the Israeli military’s conduct in the Gaza war, Biden “made very clear” to the Israeli prime minister “that he could count on US support to help them in their self-defense against threats directly and publicly posed by Iran,” White House National Security Council coordinator John Kirby told reporters Friday.

Why it matters: The promise of defensive support comes even as the United States has sought to avoid a direct confrontation with Iran and its proxies amid Israel’s ongoing war in the Gaza Strip.

In the aftermath of the Israeli airstrikes in Damascus on Monday, Pentagon and White House officials were quick to publicly deny any foreknowledge or involvement. US officials privately communicated that denial to Iranian counterparts via back channels, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

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