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General voices concern for US troops as Iran-Israel attacks increase

“I do worry about these exchanges between Iran and Israel because many times our forces are at risk, whether in Iraq or in Syria,” CENTCOM chief Gen. Frank McKenzie said.

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The outgoing head of the US Central Command said Friday that he was concerned about the increasing attacks between Israel and Iran “because many times our forces are at risk.”

“I think it’s obvious that Israel is going to take steps to defend itself when it’s confronted with Iranian actions. And of course, Iran is dedicated to the destruction of Israel,” CENTCOM chief Gen. Frank McKenzie said during a video call with reporters.

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He added: “I do worry about these exchanges between Iran and Israel because many times our forces are at risk, whether in Iraq or in Syria. So that, in fact, does concern me as we watch this series of exchanges.”

Last week, the most recent incident occurred when Iran claimed an attack on a residence in Iraq’s Erbil, claiming the target to be an Israeli intelligence compound. The Erbil government denied that there were any Israeli sites in its territory. The IRGC said they were retaliating for an Israeli air strike that killed two of its members in Syria and a drone attack allegedly launched from Erbil.

Gen. McKenzie noted several attacks by Iran and its proxies targeting US forces in Syria and Iraq over the last six months. “The Iranians have believed that they can undertake a certain level of kinetic action against us,” he said but pointing out that US casualties have been avoided. “Had US casualties occurred, I think we might be in a very different place right now.”

The top US military commander for the Middle East will be replaced in the next few weeks as he steps into retirement, but looking back, he said Iran was the number one problem he faced during his three-year term.

“There were other problems, other huge problems, but the headquarters as a whole… focused on the Iranian problem and everything attended to that,” he said.

Gen. McKenzie voiced support for an Iran nuclear deal because taking Iran’s nuclear option “off the table has to contribute to regional security.”

Nevertheless, he noted this wouldn’t solve the other problems of Iran, including its ballistic missile program and its support for proxies. “And we need to recognize that. That’s a separate problem,” he said.

“We’re going to need to be able to address those, preferably through negotiations, but also through deterrence,” Gen. McKenzie said.

Read more: CENTCOM chief bemoans delays in US weapons sales to Middle East allies

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