US defense secretary: Iran is present everywhere we find trouble in Mideast

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US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that Israel has an “absolute right to defend itself” against Iran in light of the Israeli strikes on Iranian targets in Syria on Saturday, Haaretz reported.

Syrian air forces had shot down an Israeli F-16 fighter jet after Israel intercepted an Iranian drone launched from Syria.

The US military had no involvement in these events, Mattis told reporters before flying to Europe.

“Israel has an absolute right to defend themselves. They don't have to wait until their citizens are dying under attack before they actually address that issue,” he said, according to Haaretz.

The Trump administration issued a few statements on the attack, supporting Israel and criticizing Iran’s actions. Mattis told reporters that the Iranian regime is behind the Middle East’s challenges.

“It is interesting that everywhere we find trouble in the Middle East, you find the same thing behind it. Whether it be in Yemen or Beirut, or in Syria, in Iraq, you always find Iran engaged,” the newspaper reported Mattis saying.

“If you're in Bahrain, and the police there have captured explosives and that sort of thing, clearly from Iran; if you're picking up debris in Saudi Arabia of Iranian missiles; or you've got explosive boats, remote-controlled boats, out in the Red Sea, you can see where Iran is either producing the wherewithal for the fight or actually leading the fight, in some case,” he added.

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