US commander to head to Israel following 'Iran strike threats'

US commander to head to Israel following 'Iran strike threats'
The US has struck numerous Iran-linked groups since the start of Israel's war on Gaza, as Tehran makes new threats against Israel over an IRGC general killing.
3 min read
11 April, 2024
General Kurilla visited Syria and Iraq late last year following attacks against US forces [Getty]

The head of US Central Command is expected to arrive in Israel as part of efforts to shore up a response to potential Iranian strikes targeting Israel.

General Michael Erik Kurilla is set to meet senior Israeli military commanders and Israel's Defence Minister Yoav Gallant on Thursday as Tehran threatens retaliation for last week's suspected Israeli killing of an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps commander.

That coordination involves joint planning on air and missile defence, according to Axios, with Israeli officials threatening to directly strike Iranian territory if it is targeted.

Such a scenario has been practiced in joint exercises between the Israeli and Cypriot air forces over the last few days, according to Israeli Army Radio station GLZ.

This comes after Israel was blamed for an airstrike on an Iranian consulate building in Damascus, Syria on 1 April, causing outrage in Tehran and the Arab world.

The bombing killed seven members of Iran's IRGC, including the commander of the Quds Force, its foreign arm, in Syria and Lebanon Mohammad Reza Zahedi.

On Tuesday a US official told Al Jazeera Arabic that it would not rule out conducting joint strikes, alongside Israel, against Tehran if Israel is directly targeted.

However, Israel has also asked the US to limit Iran's response through public and private messaging.

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US advisor on the Middle East Brett McGurk reportedly called the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, and Iraq asking them to tell Iran to cool tensions.

Iran confirmed on Tuesday that Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian had discussed regional tensions with the said countries.

Iranian officials have vowed to respond, with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying that Israel should be punished in a post on X on Tuesday.

Speaking with Bloomberg, US officials said that intelligence suggests an Iranian response, believed to consist of a swarm of missiles and drones, was likely imminent.

Such an attack would target government and military targets according to the officials.

US officials are also discussing a potential Iranian attack on American forces in the region following private Iranian warnings to Washington, according to The Intercept.

Regional tensions are at their highest since the start of Israel's war on Gaza which followed a Hamas-led attack on Israel on 7 October that killed around 1,200 people.

This followed months of deadly assaults on Palestinian towns and villages in the occupied West Bank and an ongoing siege on Gaza.

Israel's campaign in Gaza, which has killed over 33,482 Palestinians and put the enclave on the brink of famine, has spilled over across the region, with Israel actively engaged in clashes with Hezbollah on its border with Lebanon.

Yemen's Houthis also launched a campaign against Israeli-linked shipping passing through the Red Sea to demand an end to the Gaza war, which triggered US and UK airstrikes against the group.

Groups affiliated with the Islamic Resistance in Iraq have also targeted Israel, as well as US bases in Syria and Iraq killing three US service personnel.