Hezbollah Launches Rockets, Drones Into Israel As US Warns Iran


By Jeff Seldin

U.S. President Joe Biden delivered a stern, one-word warning to Iran on Friday as the world braced for Tehran to exact revenge for a deadly Israeli airstrike on its embassy compound in Damascus, Syria.

“Don’t,” Biden said to reporters following a speech on domestic policy at an event in New York City.

“We are devoted to the defense of Israel,” the president said in response to questions from reporters. “We will support Israel. We will help defend Israel, and Iran will not succeed.”

Biden’s comments followed similar expressions of support from top U.S. defense and diplomatic officials over the past several days and come as the U.S. military takes steps to ensure growing hostilities between Israel and Iran do not engulf the Middle East in a wider war.

“We are moving additional assets to the region to bolster regional deterrence efforts and increase protection for U.S. forces,” a U.S. defense official told VOA Friday. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, declined to share additional details.

Even as U.S. officials warned Iran against seeking revenge, a key Iranian proxy sprang into action.

Lebanese Hezbollah late Friday fired dozens of rockets into northern Israel.

The Israel Defense Forces said it detected about 40 rockets crossing from Lebanon into Israel, some of which were intercepted by air defense systems.

The IDF also said it was able to intercept two explosive drones that Hezbollah militants had used to target Israel earlier Friday.

It is unclear whether the rocket and drone attacks by Hezbollah were part of an effort by Iran to retaliate for the Israeli strike on Iran’s diplomatic compound earlier this month, which killed three senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commanders, including General Ali Reza Zahdi, who led Iran’s elite Quds force.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned Wednesday that Israel “must be punished and will be punished” for the April 1 attack, days after one of his advisers said Israeli embassies are “no longer safe.”

U.S. diplomatic officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, have been reaching out to counterparts in Turkey, China and Saudi Arabia, urging them to make clear to Tehran “that escalation is not in anyone’s interest,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters Thursday.

But the U.S. push for de-escalation has been accompanied by expressions of strong support for Israel in the face of potential Iranian aggression.

“We are in constant communication with our Israeli counterparts about making sure that they can defend themselves,” White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters early Friday, describing Iran’s threat to retaliate as “very credible.”

“We take our commitment to helping Israel with their self-defense very seriously,” Kirby said. “It is an ironclad commitment.”

During a call Thursday with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also offered Washington’s backing to Israel.

“Secretary Austin assured Minister Gallant that Israel could count on full U.S. support to defend Israel against Iranian attacks,” according to a Pentagon readout of the conversation.

The U.S. statements and the movement of additional resources to deter Iranian aggression, however, have done little so far to ease growing concerns.

“We are very worried about potential escalation in a situation that seems to be escalating on a daily basis,” said United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

“Our message, which has been sent publicly and privately, is to avoid any escalation and work toward de-escalation of the tensions,” Dujarric told reporters Friday.

VOA’s Patsy Widakuswara and Margaret Besheer contributed to this report.


The VOA is the Voice of America

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