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Source: USA Today

Oct 25, 2023

Biden warns Iran not to attack American troops as Israel-Hamas war continues

By Joey Garrison and Francesca Chambers

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said he issued a stark warning to Iran's ayatollah that the U.S. would respond if his nation continues to move against U.S. troops in the region.

"He should be prepared," Biden said at a Rose Garden news conference.

Drone attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria this month have injured at least two dozen Americans.

The Pentagon says that the U.S. and coalition forces were attacked at least 10 separate times in Iraq and at least three separate times in Syria by a mix of drones and rockets. The U.S. has deployed two aircraft carrier strike groups to the region to deter hostile actors from striking.

U.S. military officials have warned of a widening this war in the region and did so again this week.

"What we are seeing is the prospect for more significant escalation against U.S. forces and personnel across the region in the very near term coming from Iranian proxy forces, and ultimately from Iran," Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said at a briefing on Tuesday.

Biden has repeatedly warned Iranian proxy groups such as Hezbollah, which the U.S. government considers a terrorist organization, not to use the war between Israel and Hamas as cover to launch attacks. He has told Iran in particular to "be careful" and "don't" expand the conflict.

Biden said at a Wednesday news conference alongside Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who is in the U.S. on an official state visit, that his administration is doing everything in its power to prevent a wider war. But he would not hesitate to protect American troops if he found them in harm's way.

The president also provided an update on the 10 unaccounted for Americans who the U.S. has said may be hostages of Hamas and foreign nationals who are trapped in Gaza.

A total of four hostages have been released by Hamas, including two Americans, since the start of the war that began on Oct. 7 when the militant group that governs the Gaza Strip launched a surprise attack on Israel.

Israel says more than 1,400 people have been killed inside their territory, of which 33 are Americans, and Hamas is holding roughly 220 people hostage. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry says its death toll has risen to at least 6,546 people. The numbers have not been independently verified.

Biden traveled to Tel Aviv last week to meet to with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He announced as he returned to the U.S. that he has secured a deal for humanitarian aid to be delivered through Gaza's border with Egypt to Palestinian people.

His administration has steadfastly supported Israel in the conflict while asking the U.S. ally to follow international law and protect Palestinian civilians in Gaza during the combat.

The U.S. has opposed calls for a "humanitarian ceasefire" in the war but indicated Tuesday that it could back a temporary "pause" to allow aid to reach Gaza more quickly. The White House said Tuesday viewed the two duration, scope and size.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that "humanitarian pauses must be considered" at a United Nations Security Council meeting.

Biden has requested $10 billion in emergency funding from Congress for humanitarian assistance for Israel, Ukraine and the Gaza Strip.

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