Iran threatens to respond to any US strikes as Biden weighs how to react to a base attack in Jordan

Iran warned Wednesday that it would “decisively” respond to any U.S. attacks on the Islamic Republic after President Joe Biden linked Tehran to the death of three U.S. troops at a Jordanian military base.

The U.S. is preparing retaliatory attacks in the Middle East in response to Sunday’s drone attack, which injured at least forty troops at Tower 22 in northeastern Jordan. This base has been vital for the American presence in Syria.

There are concerns that additional American strikes may further enflame an already volatile region, which is already affected by Israel’s ongoing conflict with Hamas and by the Houthi rebels of Yemen who continue to attack ships in the Red Sea.

Officials said that a U.S. Navy destroyer patrolling in the waterway intercepted a Houthis anti-ship missile late on Tuesday. This was the latest attack against American forces patrolling this important maritime trade route.

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Amir Saeid Iravani was the first to issue warnings from Iran. He is Iran’s ambassador at the United Nations, in New York. According to IRNA, he briefed Iranian journalists on Tuesday evening.

Iravani was quoted by IRNA as saying, “The Islamic Republic will respond decisively to any attack against the country, its interests and citizens under any pretext.” He called any possible Iranian response a “strong reaction” without providing further details.

The Iranian Mission to the U.N. has not responded to Wednesday’s requests for comments or clarifications on Iravani’s remarks.

Iravani denied as well that Iran and the U.S. exchanged messages in the past few days either directly or through intermediaries. Al Jazeera is a pan-Arab satellite station based and funded in Qatar that reported such communication earlier. Qatar is often a mediator between Washington and Tehran.

Iravani stated that “such messages have not yet been exchanged.”

The Iranian government is aware of the U.S. threat of retaliation in response to the attack on a base in Jordan.

At an event on Wednesday, Revolutionary Guard commander General Hossein Salami said, “Sometimes, our enemies raise threats and today we hear some threat between words from American officials.” Salami answers to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. “We tell them you know us, and that we are familiar with each other.” We will not let any threat go unanswered.

According to IRNA, he said, “We do not want war, but have no fear of it.”

A general in charge Iran’s air defences said on Saturday that they were at their “highest level of defensive readiness.” This raises concern for commercial aviation flying through or over Iran. In 2020, a U.S. air strike killed a senior general. Iranian air defenses shot down an Ukrainian passenger flight, killing all the 176 passengers.

In the meantime, Houthi rebels backed by Iran continue to launch attacks in the Red Sea. The latest attack targeted a U.S. Warship. Central Command of the U.S. Military said that the missile fired Tuesday night was aimed at the USS Gravely – a guided missile destroyer of the Arleigh Burke class.

The statement read: “There have been no reported injuries or damages.”

A Houthi military spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree claimed responsibility for the attack Wednesday morning in a press release, calling it a “victory for oppression against the Palestinians and a reaction to the American-British invasion of our country.”

Saree said the Houthis had fired “several missiles”. The U.S. Navy has not confirmed this. Houthi claims were exaggerated before, and sometimes their missiles crash on the land and miss their target.

Houthis claimed, without any evidence, that they had targeted the USS Lewis B. Puller on Monday. This is a floating base used by Navy SEALs as well as others. The U.S. claimed there was no attack.

Since November, rebels have targeted ships in Red Sea in response to Israel’s offensive in Gaza against Hamas. They have often targeted ships with no or tenuous links to Israel. This has put at risk the shipping on a major route between Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

On Friday, the Houthis fired a missile at a commercial ship. The fire raged for several hours.

As allied warships continue to patrol the waters affected by these attacks, the U.S. and United Kingdom have launched several rounds of airstrikes against the Houthis. The European Union plans to launch an additional naval mission in the Red Sea to defend cargo ships from Houthi attacks within three weeks, said the bloc’s top diplomatic official on Wednesday.