As thousands of National Guard troops continued to flow into Washington ahead of Inauguration Day, the Pentagon on Sunday sent another strong signal to Iran and other potential adversaries in the Middle East not to exploit the nation’s focus on domestic terrorist threats to carry out attacks against Americans in the region.
The military’s Central Command sent two B-52 bombers on a 36-hour round-trip show-of-force mission from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to the Persian Gulf to deter any possible strikes by Iran or its Shia proxies in Iraq against U.S. troops in the region. It was the fifth such bomber mission in recent months, and the second this year.
U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed for months that Iran is seeking to target senior American military officers and civilian leaders to avenge the death of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, in an American drone strike last January.
Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the commander of the Central Command, said in a statement on Sunday that, in addition to improving readiness, the B-52 flights delivered “a clear and consistent message in the operational environment to both friends and potential adversaries alike.”
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