US Centcom commander: Iran has ability to strike Israel

Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr, US Central Command (CENTCOM) commander, addresses a session focused on maritime security during 15th Manama Dialogue in Bahrain on November 23, 2019.

Iran has the ability to strike Israel and would probably use long-range ballistic missiles if it were to carry out an attack, US Central Command (CENTCOM) chief Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said on Saturday, adding he did not have any particular knowledge of an Iranian plan to attack.

“[The Iranian regime] do possess enough weapons they can strike Israel ... Iran works very aggressively to perfect those longer range missiles and if they were striking Israel, my guess would be that’s what they would use. But I don’t have any particular knowledge of that,” McKenzie told Al Arabiya English in an interview at the IISS Manama Dialogue summit in Bahrain.

The comments came ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement on Sunday that Iran is planning attacks against Israel. Netanyahu said everything possible would be done to prevent them.

McKenzie said the “centerpiece” of the Iranian military is its collection of approximately 3,000 ballistic missiles of various ranges, but added: “Israel has the ability to defend itself against that.”

Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system intercepted four rockets allegedly fired from Syria on Tuesday, with the army blaming an “Iranian force.” Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah have been fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and have forces stationed in the country.

“We are taking all necessary actions to prevent Iran from entrenching here in our region,” Netanyahu said during a visit to an army base near the border with Syria.

“This includes the activity necessary to thwart the transfer of lethal weaponry from Iran to Syria, whether by air or overland,” Netanyahu said.

McKenzie said that while Iran has used a variety of weapons, its go-to is the ballistic missile program.

“We’ve seen [Iran] use cruise missiles, small or unmanned aerial vehicles, but for right now ... their strategic centerpiece, remains their ballistic missile force,” said McKenzie.

The commander of Iran’s IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami said on June 18 that Iran’s ballistic missile technology had changed the balance of power in the Middle East.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:56 - GMT 06:56
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