A pair of American B-52 bombers flew over the Middle East on Monday, amid rising tensions between the U.S and Iran. It is the fourth such deployment this year and the second under the Biden administration.
According to the U.S. military’s Central Command, the two B-52s flew over the region accompanied by military aircraft from nations including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.
The mission was meant to “deter aggression and reassure partners and allies of the US military’s commitment to security in the region,” the U.S military said.
Flight-tracking data showed the two B-52s flew out of Minot Air Base in North Dakota. Authorities later published images of the flight crew preparing its departure there.
The Times of Israel also reported the involvement of Israeli F-15 fighter jets that escorted the American flights through Israeli airspace.
Israel has blamed Tehran for an attack on an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman.
“This flight is another testament to the strategic cooperation with American forces, which is a cornerstone in the preservation of the security of the airspace of the State of Israel and the Middle East,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.
Recent weeks have seen multiple attacks on American military bases in Iraq by Iran-linked militias. In late February, the United States carried out airstrikes against Iranian-backed Militia in the Syrian border region.
Last week, At least 10 Iranian rockets landed at the Ain al-Asad airbase. The airbase in the western Iraqi province of Anbar hosts the US, coalition, and Iraqi forces.
The U.S Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned Iran of an appropriate response to the aggression.
“We’re still developing the intelligence” on the latest attack, Austin said. “We’re going to defend our troops and our response will be thoughtful, it will be appropriate.”
“We’ll strike, if that’s what we think we need to do, at a time and place of our own choosing,” he said.
U.S Patrol flights over the middle east have become common in the last few months. The last weeks of the Trump administration also saw multiple such maneuvers.
Tensions between Iran and the U.S have escalated ever since the Trump administration’s move to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.
The Biden administration has shown the willingness to revive the deal, however, both parties have been reluctant to take the first step.