U.S. will not participate in reprisal strike against Iran, senior administration official says


Washington — In the aftermath of the unprecedented airstrikes by Iran against Israel, President Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the U.S. will not participate in a reprisal strike on Iran, according to a senior administration official. 

Israel reported only minor damage to a military base after more than 300 missiles and drones were fired from Iran toward Israel Saturday night, most of which were intercepted before entering Israeli territory. 

IDF Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said at a late Sunday briefing that Israel intercepted 99% of the approximately 350 “suicide drones, cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, and rockets” launched from Iran, Iraq, Yemen, and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The retaliatory attack marked the Islamic republic’s first-ever direct offensive against Israel and came less than two weeks after an airstrike widely attributed to Israel destroyed Iran’s consulate in Syria’s capital and killed 13 people, including two high-ranking Iranian generals. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said the “cowardly crime will not go unanswered,” according to Agence France-Presse.

Israel has repeatedly targeted military officials from Iran, which supports militant groups fighting Israel in Gaza, and along its border with Lebanon. The strike in Damascus marked an escalation because it struck an Iranian diplomatic mission.

Mr. Biden, who spoke with Netanyahu on Saturday, condemned the Iranian assault while making clear that the U.S. had “helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles,” according to a White House House statement. Mr. Biden said he reaffirmed to Netanyahu the U.S.’s “ironclad commitment” to Israel’s security.

Mr. Biden, who spoke with Netanyahu on Saturday, condemned the Iranian assault while making clear that the U.S. had “helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles,” according to a White House House statement. Mr. Biden said he reaffirmed to Netanyahu the U.S.’s “ironclad commitment” to Israel’s security.

National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby said the president’s call with Netanyahu was a “good conversation” that focused on Israel’s successful defense against the airstrikes. Kirby said the president made clear during the conversation that the U.S. is working to avoid a broader regional conflict.

Biden Meets With His National Security Team
 In this handout photo provided by the White House, US President Joe Biden meets with members of the National Security team regarding the unfolding missile attacks on Israel from Iran, on April 13, 2024 in the White House Situation Room in Washington, DC.

Adam Schultz/The White House via Getty Images


“The Prime Minister is well aware that the president is not looking for a conflict with Iran, that the president doesn’t want the tensions to escalate anymore, and that the president is doing everything — and has since the seventh of October — to try to keep this from becoming a broader regional war,” Kirby told Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, adding that the U.S. will take “whatever steps we need to take” to protect American troops, ships and facilities in the region.

Mr. Biden also spoke Sunday with King Abdullah of Jordan, noting that Iran’s attack “also threatened Jordan and the Jordanian people,” according to a White House readout of the call.

The president convened with G7 leaders on Sunday to coordinate a diplomatic response to the attack. In a joint statement after the meeting, the leaders said that Iran has “further stepped toward the destabilization of the region and risks provoking an uncontrollable regional escalation,” adding that they would continue to work to “stabilize the situation.” The leaders demanded that Iran stop its attacks, noting that they stand ready to “take further measures” in response to additional actions. The United Nations Security Council is also set to hold an emergency meeting Sunday afternoon.

Former U.S. Central Command Commander Gen. Frank McKenzie, who also appeared on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, advised Israel to exercise restraint after the Iranian attack. 

“The fact of the matter is Israel can name the price they want to exact, the wide gap between Iranian zealotry and enthusiasm and Israeli competence has now been laid bare for all to see,” McKenzie said. “So the Israelis will be able to do what they want. Sometimes when you’re in that position, showing some restraint is the best strategic option that you can take.”

McKenzie said Israel is “stronger this morning than they were yesterday,” having successfully intercepted the bulk of an unprecedented airstrike from Iran in a “major combat test.”

“I think this was a big attack by Iran. I think this was as close to a maximum effort as they could generate,” he said. “Iran could not replicate last night’s attack tonight, if they had to.”

The developments came more than six months into Israel’s war with Hamas, as Mr. Biden has been under intense pressure from his party to be more firm with Israel’s government due to a staggering civilian death toll in Gaza following the Oct. 7 attacks. According to a CBS News/YouGov poll released on Sunday that was conducted before Iran’s drone and missile attack on Israel, an increasing number of Americans want the president to encourage Israel to stop military actions in Gaza.

“Even while under attack from Iran, we have not lost sight—not for one moment—of our critical mission in Gaza to rescue our hostages from the hands of Iran’s-proxy Hamas, of our moral duty to do everything in our power to bring 133 hostages home.” Hagari said at Sunday’s briefing. 

Margaret Brennan and Michal Ben-Gal contributed reporting.



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