The United States flew strategic bombers over the Persian Gulf on Wednesday for the second time this month, a show of force meant to deter Iran from attacking American or allied targets in the Middle East.
One senior U.S. military officer said the flight by two Air Force B-52 bombers was in response to signals that Iran may be planning attacks against U.S. allied targets in neighboring Iraq or elsewhere in the region in coming days, even as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office. The officer was not authorized to publicly discuss internal assessments based on sensitive intelligence and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The B-52 bomber mission, flown round trip from an Air Force base in North Dakota, reflects growing concern in Washington, in the final weeks of President Donald Trump’s administration, that Iran will order further military retaliation for the U.S. killing last Jan. 3 of top Iranian military commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Iran’s initial response, five days after the deadly U.S. drone strike, was a ballistic missile attack on a military base in Iraq that caused brain concussion injuries to about 100 U.S. troops.
Iran, however, has appeared wary of Trump’s intentions in his final weeks in office, given his focus on pressuring Tehran with sanctions and other moves that have further damaged the Islamic Republic’s economy. [Continue reading…]