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US Sending More Military Assets to the Middle East

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Washington would send more military assets to the Middle East in support of Israel and strengthen the US defence posture in the region following "recent escalations by Iran and its proxy forces" - a reference to Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamist militants.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — Concerns about the risk of a wider Middle East conflict triggered by the Israel-Hamas war rose on Sunday (Oct 22) with the US dispatching more military assets to the region as Israel pummelled targets in Gaza and Hamas supporters in Lebanon and Syria.

Medical sources in Gaza said more than 50 Palestinians were killed in Israeli air strikes overnight on the enclave, to which Israel laid “total siege” after a cross-border Oct 7 rampage by Hamas militants that has traumatised Israelis.

In neighbouring Syria – where Hamas’s main regional backer Iran has a military presence – Israeli missiles hit Damascus and Aleppo international airports early on Sunday, killing at least two workers, according to Syrian state media.

In south Lebanon, where the Iran-backed Hezbollah has been exchanging cross-border fire with Israel in support of Hamas, Israel said its aircraft bombed Hezbollah targets on Saturday.

Hezbollah said six of its fighters were killed.

Middle East

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken cautioned Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister that the Lebanese population would be affected if his country were drawn into the Israeli-Hamas war, the State Department said.

With violence around its borders increasing, Israel on Sunday added 14 communities close to Lebanon and Syria to its evacuation plan in the north of the country.

Israel began unrelenting air strikes on Gaza to its southwest after Hamas gunmen breached the border and carried out a shock rampage through nearby communities, killing 1,400 people, mainly civilians, and taking 212 hostages back to Gaza.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said on Saturday that Israel’s air and missile strikes in retaliation had killed at least 4,385 Palestinians, including hundreds of children, with more than a million of the tiny territory’s 2.3 million people displaced.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Washington would send more military assets to the Middle East in support of Israel and strengthen the US defence posture in the region following “recent escalations by Iran and its proxy forces” – a reference to Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamist militants.

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system and additional Patriot air defence missile system battalions will be sent to the region and more troops put on standby, Austin said.

Guam
THAAD

 

Washington has already deployed a significant amount of naval power to the Middle East in recent weeks, including two aircraft carriers, their support ships and about 2,000 Marines.

Drones and rockets targeted two military bases housing US forces in Iraq last week, the latest in a series of attacks after Iraqi militants warned Washington against intervening to support Israel against Hamas in Gaza.

Israel has amassed tanks and troops near the fenced border around Gaza for a planned ground invasion aiming to annihilate Hamas, after several inconclusive wars dating to its seizure of power there in 2007, after Israel ended a 38-year occupation.

“We are going to go into the Gaza Strip … to destroy Hamas operatives and Hamas infrastructure,” Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi told troops on Saturday.

Elaborating on Israel’s strategy in remarks to Fox TV on Sunday, military spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus said it was “to have a weakened, tired and dislocated Hamas in preparation for our next stage of military operations.”

“Our working assumption,” he said, “is that Hamas has prepared the battlefield, that there are various dimensions of warfare ready for us – specifically tunnels – and that Hamas, at least in the first and the intermediate stages, will fight and will inflict heavy casualties on (Israeli forces).”

Iron Dome
Hamas rocket.

 

Hamas’ armed wing said it had fired rockets at Tel Aviv on Sunday. There was no immediate word of damage or casualties.

Elaborating on Israel’s strategy in remarks to Fox TV on Sunday, military spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus said it was “to have a weakened, tired and dislocated Hamas in preparation for our next stage of military operations.”

“Our working assumption,” he said, “is that Hamas has prepared the battlefield, that there are various dimensions of warfare ready for us – specifically tunnels – and that Hamas, at least in the first and the intermediate stages, will fight and will inflict heavy casualties on (Israeli forces).”

Hamas’ armed wing said it had fired rockets at Tel Aviv on Sunday. There was no immediate word of damage or casualties.

With Israel keeping up daily bombardments that laid waste to swathes of the densely populated enclave, Palestinians said they received renewed Israeli military warnings to move from Gaza’s north to the south to avoid the deadliest theatre of the war.

They said military leaflets dropped on the narrow territory, just 45km long, contained the added warning that they could be identified as sympathisers with a “terrorist organisation” if they stayed put. — DSA

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