US to continue military presence in the Middle East amid Israel-Hamas war

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The US will continue to maintain a significant military force presence in the Middle East amid the ongoing clash between Israel and Hamas, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said on Wednesday.

This comes as the Israel-Hamas war is causing conflict that is spreading to other areas in the Middle East.

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In Yemen, the Iran-backed Houthi militias have been using drone and an anti-ship ballistic missile, targeting vessels in the vital Red Sea shipping lane with strikes they say are in support of Palestinians in Gaza, where Israel is battling militant group Hamas.

The Houthis have seized or attacked with drones and missiles a dozen ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November 19. They aim to raise the international costs of Israel’s offensive in Gaza, which was triggered by the October 7 onslaught into Israel by the enclave’s ruling Hamas militants.

The US is leading a new naval task force to protect commercial shipping and has accused Iran of supplying weapons, financing, targeting and other assistance to the Houthis. Iran denies the allegation.

In Iraq and Syria, Iran-aligned groups have used drones and missiles to target US military bases and personnel, officials said.

The US military carried out retaliatory airstrikes in Iraq targeting the groups.

The back-and-forth clashes show how the Israel-Hamas war is rippling across the Middle East, creating turmoil that has turned US troops at bases in Iraq and Syria into targets.

The US military has already come under attack at least 100 times in Iraq and Syria since the Israel-Hamas war began in October, usually with a mix of rockets and one-way attack drones.

The US embassy compound in Baghdad also came under mortar fire in December, the first time it had been attacked in more than a year, in a major escalation.

With agencies

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US carries out retaliatory airstrikes in Iraq after service members injured in attack

US intercepts Houthi drone, ballistic missile attacks in Red Sea

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