In a Message to Iran, US Bombers Buzz Mideast

Flights are the second ordered during Biden administration
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 7, 2021 10:30 AM CST
B-52s Fly Over Mideast in a US Warning to Iran
Pilots from the 69th Bomb Squadron board the B-52H Stratofortress bomber "Wham Bam II" in preparation for a flight over the Mideast on Saturday at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota.   (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Josh W. Strickland via AP)

A pair of B-52 bombers flew over the Mideast on Sunday, the latest such mission in the region aimed at warning Iran amid tensions between Washington and Tehran. The flight by the two heavy bombers came as a pro-Iran satellite channel based in Beirut broadcast Iranian drone footage of an Israeli ship hit by a mysterious explosion days earlier in the Mideast. While the channel sought to say Iran wasn't involved, Israel has blamed Tehran for what it described as an attack, the AP reports. The US military's Central Command said the two B-52s flew over the region accompanied by military aircraft from nations including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. It marked the fourth such bomber deployment into the Mideast this year and the second under President Biden. Flight-tracking data showed the two B-52s flew out of Minot Air Base in North Dakota, something Central Command did not mention in its statement on the flights, though authorities later published images of the flight crew preparing for its departure there.

The military did not directly mention Iran in its statement, saying the flight was to "deter aggression and reassure partners and allies of the US military’s commitment to security in the region." However, such flights had become common in the last months of former President Trump's administration. Trump's 2018 decision to unilaterally withdraw from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers sparked a series of escalating incidents in the region. Biden has expressed a desire to return to the deal if Iran honors the deal’s limits on its nuclear program. However, tensions remain high after militias in Iraq—likely backed by Iran—continue to target American interests. Biden last month launched an airstrike just over the border into Syria in retaliation, joining every American president from Ronald Reagan onward who has ordered a bombardment of countries in the Middle East.

(More Iran stories.)

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