Pentagon offers hostage rescue support to Israel, but no US ‘boots on ground’

A senior US defense official said Monday that military posture increases in the Middle East were intended to serve as a deterrent signal to Iran, Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

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The US has offered hostage rescue support to Israel, but this does not involve putting American troops on the ground, a Pentagon official said Tuesday.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made the offer during calls with his Israeli counterpart in the aftermath of the Hamas attacks on Israeli citizens and military targets over the weekend.

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Austin directed his Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) team to “lean forward” with planning and intelligence support to the Israeli army, a Pentagon official said on Tuesday.

Officials from the US Central Command (CENTCOM), US Army Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and JSOC are currently offering support to Israel on hostage rescue planning, the official said.

“This offer is with Israel taking the lead, and this isn’t boots on the ground,” the official clarified, following reports that the US was prepared to deploy US troops to help secure the release of hostages being held by Hamas.

This comes after the White House also denied reports that the US planned to place US troops on Israeli territory.

At least 11 Americans have been killed, US President Joe Biden said on Monday. He also noted that the number is expected to rise in the coming days. As for the hostages, US officials have not been able to say unequivocally if and how many are American.

After the Hamas attacks, the Pentagon chief ordered the deployment of additional equipment and resources, including munitions, to arrive in Israel in the coming days. Austin also ordered the deployment of a US aircraft carrier strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean and the augmentation of fighter jets.

A senior US defense official said Monday that those military posture increases in the Middle East were intended to serve as a deterrent signal to Iran, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and any other proxy in the region following the Hamas attack likened to “ISIS-level savagery.”

Read more: US warns Lebanon’s Hezbollah not to get involved in Hamas-Israel war

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