US officials say military shot down Iranian drones headed for Israel

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The US military shot down several Iranian drones late Saturday during Tehran’s retaliation against a deadly Israeli strike on Iran’s consulate in Damascus on April 1.

A US military official told Al Arabiya English US forces in the region continue to shoot down Iranian-launched drones targeting Israel, adding that US troops remain postured to provide additional defensive support and to protect US forces operating in the region.

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A separate US defense official told Al Arabiya English that the US military had made adjustments to act if called upon after Iran began its retaliatory attack on Israel. “As always, we are postured to act if directed,” the official said after Iran launched dozens of drones and ballistic missiles at Israel.

The United States quickly rejected the notion that it played a role in the April 1 strike and said Israel was behind the attack. US officials also said they were not informed about the attack ahead of time, leading to frustration in Washington that this could have endangered US troops in the region if an Iranian response were to have taken place.

On Saturday, the White House said Iran had begun an airborne attack against Israel. “This attack is likely to unfold over a number of hours,” National Security Council Spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement.

She said US President Biden was being regularly updated on the situation and that his team was in constant communication with Israeli officials as well as other partners and allies. Biden returned to Washington after cutting his weekend trip to Rehoboth Beach short due to the unfolding situation in the Middle East.

Initial US intelligence assessed that the Iranian attack would take place overnight, but new information early Saturday pushed up that timeline, US officials told Al Arabiya English.

National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Friday that there had been force posture changes to US military assets in the Middle East due to Iran’s threats to retaliate against Israel. He said the Iranian threat was real and was being taken seriously.

Pentagon officials have said the US will continue to take appropriate steps to ensure the protection of American forces in the region.

Read more: US makes force posture changes amid Iran threats to attack Israel: White House

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