As the anniversary of the killing of Iran’s top military leader in a US drone strike approaches, two B-52 bombers flew over the Persian Gulf on Wednesday in a show of military might directed toward Iran.
The two Air Force long-range bombers on a 30-hour round-trip mission to the Middle East took off from the air base in Minot, North Dakota, on Tuesday and were refueled in flight.
The mission, the second this month over the Persian Gulf, highlights Washington’s increasing concerns about possible Iranian retaliation against US or allied facilities as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to enter the White House on Jan. 20.
“The United States continues to deploy combat-ready capabilities into the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to deter any potential adversary, and make clear that we are ready and able to respond to any aggression directed at Americans or our interests,” said Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of Central Command.
“We do not seek conflict, but no one should underestimate our ability to defend our forces or to act decisively in response to any attack,” he said.
An Iranian-backed Shiite militia group carried out a rocket attack last week on the US Embassy in Baghdad, prompting a stern warning from President Trump.
“Some friendly health advice to Iran: If one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. Think it over,” Trump wrote on Twitter last Tuesday.
McKenzie said last week that Iran poses a “heightened risk” to the US over Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s killing.
Earlier this month, a pair of B-52s from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana flew a “presence” mission over the Persian Gulf in another show of strength.
And the US Navy announced on Dec. 22 that a nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Georgia, entered the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.
With Post wires