US officials said to warn of potential new Iran threat to forces, interests

Source: US officials said to warn of potential new Iran threat to forces, interests | The Times of Israel

Defense, administration sources say CNN intelligence gathered over past month showed Iranian military units, weapons on the move; believe no decision to attack as yet

An Iranian woman looks at Taer-2 missile during a street exhibition by Iran's army and paramilitary Revolutionary Guard celebrating 'Defense Week' marking the 39th anniversary of the start of 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, at the Baharestan Square in Tehran, on September 26, 2019. (STRINGER/AFP)

An Iranian woman looks at Taer-2 missile during a street exhibition by Iran’s army and paramilitary Revolutionary Guard celebrating ‘Defense Week’ marking the 39th anniversary of the start of 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, at the Baharestan Square in Tehran, on September 26, 2019. (STRINGER/AFP)

Several US defense and administration officials have warned of a renewed Iranian threat against US forces and interests in the Middle East, based on intelligence gathered over the last month, according to a report Wednesday.

The intelligence found evidence that Iran has moved forces and weapons, according to the report, which did not specify what weapons were involved.

“There has been consistent intelligence in the last several weeks,” one official told the station, while another said the information was gathered throughout November.

The officials said there are concerns that the movements could put forces in position for a potential attack. However, the officials noted that there is no indication that Iran has made a decision to attack the US.

Without commenting on the recent intelligence, Pentagon spokeswoman Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich told CNN, “We continue to closely monitor the activities of the regime in Iran, its military and its proxies, and we are well postured to defend US forces and interests as needed.”

The report came amid a series of recent developments including bellicose statements from senior Iranian military figures threatening the US and Israel, an alleged Iranian missile attack on Israel launched from Syria, and a news report detailing how Iran allegedly ordered a damaging cruise missile and drone strike on a Saudi oil facility.

Last week, Iranian Gen. Allahnoor Noorollahi warned that Iran’s missile arsenals are aimed at 21 American military bases in the Middle East and the country is prepared for “the greatest war against the greatest enemy.”

In the November 29 speech, Noorollahi also said that Iran had the ability to raze Haifa and Tel Aviv to the ground.

Noorollahi serves as a top adviser to the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Officers College. His speech was broadcast on Bushehr TV, and was reported on and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

Noorollahi’s comments came just days after the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s top commander, Gen. Hossein Salami, threatened to destroy Israel, the US and other countries, as he addressed a pro-government demonstration denouncing last month’s violent protests in Iran over a fuel price hike.

Chief of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Gen. Hossein Salami speaks in a ceremony to unveil new anti-US murals painted on the walls of former US embassy in Tehran, Iran, November 2, 2019. (Vahid Salemi/AP)

Salami accused the US, Britain, Israel and Saudi Arabia of stoking the unrest.

“If you cross our red line, we will destroy you,” he said. “We will not leave any move unanswered.”

On November 19, Iran’s Quds Force, a branch of the Revolutionary Guards, fired four missiles at Israel from Syria, according to the Israel Defense Forces. All four were shot down, and Israel responded a day later with a punishing round of airstrikes against Iranian and Syrian targets.

At least 23 combatants were killed, 16 of them likely Iranians, according to a Syrian war monitor.

A devastating September 14 combined drone and cruise missile barrage on two Saudi facilities knocked out half of the kingdom’s oil production/

Although Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels claimed responsibility, Israel, the US, Britain, France, Germany, and Saudi Arabia have accused Iran of being behind the attack. Tehran denies the allegation.

Last month, Reuters reported that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei personally approved the attack on condition the strike did not target civilians or Americans.

During a trip organized by the Saudi information ministry, workers fix the damage in Aramco’s oil separator at processing facility after the September 14 attack in Abqaiq, near Dammam in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, September 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

In an interview published last month, Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, the head of the US military’s Central Command told the New York Times said that Iran remains on track to carry out a large-scale attack in the region.

“My judgment is that it is very possible they will attack again,” McKenzie assessed.

The lack of serious consequences to the attack on Saudi Arabia has led Israeli officials to warn an emboldened Tehran could seek a major attack on the Jewish state soon.

Israel has repeatedly said that it will not accept Iranian military entrenchment in Syria and that it will retaliate for any attack on the Jewish state from Syria.

Tensions have risen in the Persian Gulf since May last year when US President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned the nuclear deal between major powers and Iran and began reimposing crippling sanctions in a campaign of “maximum pressure.”

They flared again this May when Iran began reducing its own commitments under the deal and the US deployed military assets to the region.

Since then, ships have also been attacked, drones downed, and oil tankers seized.

 

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