WASHINGTON — The United States accused Iran on Monday of “actively facilitating” attacks on US forces in the Middle East as it confirmed it had sent a small number of military advisers to Israel.
US concerns have been rising about the potential for escalation of the war between Israel and the Hamas terror group — which began after Hamas massacred 1,400 people in Israel on October 7, and Israel opened a campaign of airstrikes and prepared for a ground offensive intended to destroy Hamas in Gaza — although Washington has rejected calls for a ceasefire as it says that ally Israel has a right to self-defense.
“Iran continues to support Hamas and Hezbollah, and we know that Iran is closely monitoring these events and, in some cases, actively facilitating these attacks and spurring on others who may want to exploit the conflict for their own good or for that of Iran,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters at the White House.
“We know Iran’s goal is to maintain some level of deniability here, but we’re not going to allow them to do that,” Kirby added.
Until the Hamas onslaught and subsequent war, US President Joe Biden’s administration had hailed a period of relative calm with pro-Iranian militias in the region following quiet talks between US and Iranian officials.
But since Wednesday, at least five rocket and drone attacks have targeted three Iraqi military bases where American troops are stationed as part of the international coalition set up to fight the Islamic State group.
Iran’s Shiite clerical leaders support Hamas as well as the Lebanese Shiite terror group Hezbollah, Shiite paramilitary groups in Iraq and Yemen’s Huthi rebels.
A senior US defense official said Monday that the situation could get significantly worse.
“We see a prospect for much more significant escalation against US forces and personnel in the near-term,” the official told journalists, characterizing the recent spike in attacks as “efforts by Iran and Iran proxy forces to seek to escalate this conflict.”
The United States has promised major defense aid to Israel since the October 7 assault by Hamas terrorists. Kirby confirmed that the United States has also sent a “few” military advisers to Israel.
The officers have experience in “the sorts of operations that Israel is conducting, and may conduct in the future” and were “over there to share some perspectives,” Kirby said.
“We have asked several officials with relevant experience simply to help Israeli officials think through the difficult questions ahead and explore their options. The IDF will, as always, make its own decisions,” a Pentagon spokesperson added.
The advisers include Lt. Gen. James Glynn, a Marine three star general who was involved in operations during the US fight against the Islamic State in Iraq, Axios reported.
The senior US military officers are advising Israel on its seemingly imminent ground invasion, the news site said, revealing the extent of US involvement in the IDF’s military preparations.
The October 7 Hamas onslaught, in which over 1,000 civilians were slaughtered, many in their homes, was the worst attack since Israel’s creation in 1948.
The Hamas-run health ministry claims more than 5,000 people, many civilians, have been killed during Israel’s counter-airstrikes. Those figures cannot be independently verified and are believed to include Hamas’s own terrorists and gunmen, and the victims of a blast at a Gaza City hospital on October 17 caused by an Islamic Jihad missile misfire that Hamas has blamed on Israel. Israel says it killed 1,500 Hamas terrorists inside Israel on and after October 7.