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May 26, 2024

Biden says he expects Iran strike on Israel ‘sooner rather than later’

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Friday that he expects Iran will strike Israel soon, and reiterated that the U.S. would support and defend Israel if such an attack occurred.

At a White House event, when asked by reporters how imminent he thought an attack by Iran could be, Biden said that while he didn’t want to discuss “secure information,” his expectation was “sooner than later.”

Asked what his message to Iran was, Biden said, “Don’t.”

“We are devoted to the defense of Israel. We will support Israel, we will help defend Israel and Iran will not succeed,” he said.

Earlier in the day, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that U.S. officials are in “constant communication” with their Israeli counterparts “about making sure that they can defend themselves against those kinds of attacks.”

“We do believe that this still is a viable threat,” Kirby said. “We’re doing everything we can to make sure that Israel can defend itself.”

Iran accused Israel of striking its consulate in Damascus on April 1. Israeli officials have said that it was a building disguised as a diplomatic mission, and that it’s used by Iran’s Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Iranian officials, including the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have vowed to retaliate. In response, Israel has threatened to launch a direct strike on Iran if it comes under attack.

The U.S. military has been moving around assets in the Middle East and near Israel in advance of possible retaliatory strikes by Iran, according to three U.S. officials. Most of the assets involved are already deployed and are being moving around to be better positioned for defense of Israel and U.S. assets in the region and in case the U.S. needs to respond to whatever Iran does, the officials said.

NBC News reported last week that an Iranian attack on Israel could focus on military or intelligence targets, rather than civilians, two U.S. officials said.

Rebecca Shabad

Rebecca Shabad is a politics reporter for NBC News based in Washington.

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