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Biden says he expects Iran to attack Israel soon, warns: 'Don't'

Published 04/12/2024, 03:13 PM
Updated 04/12/2024, 11:30 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden looks on during his visit at the Chavis Community Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S., March 26, 2024. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/File Photo
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By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday said he expected Iran to attack Israel "sooner, rather than later" and warned Tehran not to proceed.

Asked by reporters about his message to Iran, Biden said simply, "Don't," and he underscored Washington's commitment to defend Israel.

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

Israel braced on Friday for an attack by Iran or its proxies as warnings grew of retaliation for an 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.

Israel did not claim responsibility for the airstrike on April 1. But Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Israel "must be punished and shall be" for an operation he said was equivalent to an attack on Iranian soil.

Biden said he would not divulge secure information, but said his expectation was that an attack by Iran could come "sooner, rather than later." He spoke to reporters at the White House after a virtual speech to a civil rights conference.

The U.S. rushed warships into position to protect Israel and American forces in the region, hoping to head off a direct attack from Iran on Israel that could come as soon as Friday or Saturday, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

The moves by the U.S. that are part of an effort to avoid a wider conflict in the Middle East came after a warning from a person familiar with the matter about the timing and location of the potential Iranian attack, the newspaper said.

However, a person briefed by the Iranian leadership said that while plans to attack are being discussed, no final decision has been made, the Journal said.

Countries including India, France, Poland and Russia have warned their citizens against travel to the region, already on edge over the war in Gaza, now in its seventh month. Germany on Friday called on its citizens to leave Iran.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden looks on during his visit at the Chavis Community Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S., March 26, 2024. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/File Photo

Earlier, White House spokesperson John Kirby (NYSE:KEX) said the reportedly imminent attack by Iran on Israel was a real and viable threat, but gave no details about any possible timing.

Kirby said the United States was looking at its own force posture in the region in light of Tehran's threat and was watching the situation very closely.

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