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Israel, US on high alert as Iran vows ‘punishment’ for Syria strike

As Iran threatens retaliation for a strike on its consulate in Syria last week and Israel vows to respond in kind, potentially caught in the middle are thousands of US troops at bases throughout Iraq, Syria and Gulf states.
A large billboard depicting Iranian missiles with writing in Hebrew and in Persian, which reads "prepare your coffins," hangs on the side of a building in Tehran on Jan. 16, 2024, after Iran's overnight missile attacks on multiple targets in Syria and in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region.

This is an excerpt from Security Briefing, Al-Monitor's weekly newsletter covering defense and conflict developments in the Middle East. To get Security Briefing in your inbox, sign up here.

WASHINGTON — Israel’s military and American troops across the Middle East have been bracing for expected retaliation by Iran and its proxies for Israeli airstrikes that killed seven Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officials in Damascus early last week.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei reiterated on Wednesday that Israel “must and shall be punished” for the strikes. 

“When they attack the consulate, it is as if they have attacked our soil,” Khamenei said.

Israeli leaders have vowed to respond in kind, upping the ante with firm warnings against Iran.

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