Biden returns to White House after Iran targets Israel

washington — U.S. President Joe Biden cut short a weekend visit to his holiday Rehoboth beach home in the state of Delaware to quickly return to the White House after Iran targeted Israel with more than 100 armed drones.

“Iran has begun an airborne attack against Israel,” said White House National Security spokesperson Adrienne Watson in a mid-afternoon statement on Saturday. The president’s team “is in constant communication with Israeli officials as well as other partners and allies. This attack is likely to unfold over a number of hours. President Biden has been clear: our support for Israel’s security is ironclad. The United States will stand with the people of Israel and support their defense against these threats from Iran.”

After returning to the White House, Biden went to the situation room for a briefing.

Among those present, according to the White House, were Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Charles Q. Brown, Central Intelligence Agency Director Bill Burns, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Vice President Kamala Harris and Chief of Staff Jeff Zients attended through a secure video connection.

Biden had told reporters Friday that he expected an Iranian attack on Israel “sooner rather than later.” Asked by a journalist what was his message for Iran, the president succinctly replied: “Don’t.”

The U.S. military began moving extra troops and equipment to sites in the Middle East, defense officials confirmed on Friday. It has about 40,000 troops in the region.

The U.S. Navy moved two guided-missile destroyers capable of intercepting drones and incoming missiles closer to Israel in anticipation of the Iranian attack, reported The Wall Street Journal.

The U.S. military is prepared to assist Israel in intercepting any weapons launched at its ally, CNN reported. Following confirmation of Iran’s launch of the drones, media reports said American and British warplanes began shooting down some of the aircraft before they reached Israel.

U.S. Navy forces in the Red Sea have previously intercepted long-range missiles launched toward Israel from Yemen by the Iranian-allied Houthi forces.

The Biden administration’s response to the Iranian attack will be closely watched by his political opponents, coming less than seven months before a general election rematch between the Democratic Party incumbent and his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump.

Even before the Iranian drones reached Israeli airspace, some Republican lawmakers began reacting.

Representative Steve Scalise of the state of Louisiana wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, that the United States “must stand strongly with our greatest Middle East ally as they defend themselves against Iran,” adding that the Biden administration “cannot continue to capitulate to terrorists.”

Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn of the state of Tennessee, in a message on X, called for Biden to “move quickly and launch aggressive retaliatory strikes on Iran.”

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