Biden returns to Washington as Iran launches attack on Israel

Biden returns to Washington as Iran launches attack on Israel


Biden cut short a weekend trip to his home state to meet with cabinet members and other officials

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden reinforced solidarity with Israel on Saturday after meeting with his national security team to discuss Iran's drone and missile attack on the US ally, which prompted concerns about a wider conflagration in the Middle East.

Biden cut short a weekend trip to his home state of Delaware and returned to Washington to meet with cabinet members and other top US officials.

"I just met with my national security team for an update on Iran’s attacks against Israel," Biden said in a post on X after the meeting. "Our commitment to Israel’s security against threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad."

Iran on Saturday launched dozens of drones at Israel that will take hours to reach their targets, Israel's military said, an attack that may trigger an escalation between the regional archenemies.

Tehran had vowed to retaliate for Israel's attack on Iran’s embassy compound last week in Damascus that killed a senior commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps' overseas Quds Force and six other officers.

The White House said Biden was being briefed regularly on developments in the region, where the American military shot down Iranian drone aircraft headed toward Israel, according to three US officials.

The meeting in the Situation Room, a crisis management center deep within the West Wing of the White House, was attended by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns, Director of National Intelligence Avril Hines, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and other officials, the White House said.

Earlier on Saturday, Austin spoke with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to discuss "urgent regional threats," the Pentagon said, and reiterated full American support for Israel against attacks by Iran and its proxies.

Jake Sullivan, Biden's national security adviser, relayed a similar message of US support to his own Israeli counterpart, Tzachi Hanegbi, he said in a post on X.

Israel subsequently put its military on full alert and canceled all educational and other youth activities.

On Friday, Biden warned Iran against retaliation even while predicting the attack may be imminent. "We are devoted to the defense of Israel. We will support Israel. We will help defend Israel and Iran will not succeed," he said.

Leading lawmakers from both the Democratic and Republican parties expressed support for Israel against an Iranian attack.

The US House of Representatives will make a change in its schedule to consider legislation that supports Israel and holds Iran accountable, Republican House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said in a statement.