The United States flies strategic bombers over the Persian Gulf for the second time this month, a show of force meant to deter Iran from attacking American or allied targets in the Middle East.
One senior US military officer says the flight by two Air Force B-52 bombers is in response to signals that Iran may be planning attacks against US-allied targets in neighboring Iraq or elsewhere in the region in the coming days, even as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office.
The B-52 bomber mission, flown round trip from an Air Force base in North Dakota, reflects growing concern in Washington, in the final weeks of President Donald Trump’s administration, that Iran will order further military retaliation for the US killing last Jan. 3 of top Iranian military commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
Adding to the tension was a rocket attack last week on the US Embassy compound in Baghdad by Iranian-supported Shiite militia groups. No one was killed, but Trump tweeted afterward that Iran was on notice.