US sends F-16s to MidEast to protect troops as tensions rise amid Israel-Hamas war

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A squadron of F-16 fighting aircraft has arrived in the Middle East to work alongside an array of capabilities the Pentagon has sent to the region to further enhance the ability of US forces to defend themselves as tensions rise amid the Israel-Hamas conflict playing out in Gaza.

Since Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, militia groups backed by Iran have, on more than a dozen occasions, attacked US forces conducting counterterrorism missions in both Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon said.

“We know that the groups conducting these attacks are supported by the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)] and the Iranian regime,” Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said. “What we are seeing is the prospect for more significant escalation against US forces and personnel across the region, in the very near term, coming from Iranian proxy forces and ultimately from Iran.”

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The effort to protect US forces in the region is one of three primary objectives the department has focused on since the Hamas attack on Israel. Ryder said the department is also focused on supporting Israel's right to defend itself from attacks and deterring a broader conflict in the region.

To assist Israel in its defense Ryder said the US has rushed in security assistance to enable Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to restore security and protect its people.

“As we've highlighted, this includes capabilities requested by Israel, to include precision guided munitions, small diameter bombs, artillery, ammunition, Iron Dome interceptors and other critical equipment. We continue to stay in close contact with our Israeli partners on their defense needs and remain committed to the security of Israel,” Ryder stated.

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