The U.S. continues to closely monitor what it deems to be “credible” threats of an Iranian attack on Israel in response to a strike on Iran’s Damascus consulate, even as reports indicate that Iran is looking to deploy a non-escalatory response. 

The U.S. is also moving “additional assets” to the Middle East region “to bolster regional deterrence efforts and increase force protection for U.S. forces,” a U.S. defense official told Fox News on Friday.

“I would just say that we’re watching this very, very closely,” U.S. National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby told reporters on Friday. “We still deemed the potential threat by Iran here to be real, to be viable, certainly credible, and we’re watching it as closely as we can.” 

“Right now, our focus is on having a conversation with our Israeli counterparts and making sure not just conversations, but making sure that they have what they need and that they’re able to defend themselves,” Kirby added. “We’re also clear it would be imprudent if we didn’t take a look at our own posture in the region to make sure that we’re properly prepared as well.”

Kirby assured that the U.S. remains in “constant communication” with Israeli counterparts to make sure they are ready for attack but refused to “armchair quarterback… in a public way in terms of the conversations we’re having or what we’re seeing in the intelligence picture.” 

ISRAELI PM, MILITARY LEADERS HOLD EMERGENCY MEETING AMID POSSIBLE DIRECT IRANIAN ATTACK

Tehran has continued to threaten a response against Israel for the attack on an Iranian consulate in Damascus that killed seven Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) members, including two generals. Hezbollah leadership over the weekend at the annual Quds Day commemoration in Iran also touted their readiness and willingness to launch retaliation against Israel for the attack. 

U.S. CENTCOM Gen. Michael Kurilla has been in Israel, where he met with IDF Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen Hezi Halevi and Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant to assess military preparedness, moving up his plans due to the threats from Iran, Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder confirmed during a press conference Thursday. Ryder did not speculate as to any specific threats from Iran to Israel, even as Tehran continues to promise action.

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From left: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Getty Images)

The State Department also issued new travel advisories for Israel on Thursday, restricting U.S. government employees and their families from traveling outside major cities. The department warns, “Terrorist groups, lone-actor terrorists and other violent extremists continue plotting possible attacks in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Terrorists and violent extremists may attack with little or no warning.” 

Iran has signaled to Washington that it will respond to Israel’s attack on the Damascus consulate, but may do so in a way that aims to avoid major escalation and will not act hastily, Reuters reported Thursday. 

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Israel, as of Thursday night, had not issued any special instructions from its Home Front Command but stressed that Israelis would be immediately notified of any steps taken as the state remains “on a high state of alert and preparedness,” The Jerusalem Post reported

Iran U.S. Military

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Gen. Michael Kurilla, let, met with Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant amid rising tensions with Tehran. (Ariel Hermoni/IMoD)

During an appearance on Friday’s “FOX & Friends,” Gen. Jack Keane of the Institute for the Study of War (IFSW) said an attack will happen at some point because Iran “cannot avoid the international publicity surrounding the taking down of the IRGC headquarters in Syria,” saying it was “just a reality” but adding that Iran will likely pursue a “measured response” and does not really want escalation. 

“I think they’re very much enjoying the psychological impact that this is having, not only on Israel but also on the world writ-large,” Keane said. “I think we’re taking the precautions we should be taking, to protect our own people, and certainly Israel is doing that.

Tehran Jerusalem Drones

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Gen. Michael Kurilla and Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant review Israeli military capabilities as part of an ongoing effort to ensure operational cooperability.  (Ariel Hermoni/IMoD)

“Iran has their finger on the trigger here… This much we know: Iran doesn’t want any escalation of this that would lead to a war with Israel or the United States, and that has been the fact from the beginning of the war in Gaza when they operationalized all of their proxies to join in that effort that Hamas started.” 

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Keane suggested that the best way to handle Iran was to destroy its IRGC assets in Iran, because “Iran does not want to escalate,” claiming Iran has “a weak air force… a weak navy” and “not particularly well-trained or… well-equipped” troops — instead, he argued that Iran relies heavily on its drone and missile arsenal.

“Iran knows that war with them would destroy their regime economically, and they are likely to lose it,” Keane insisted. “The leverage has always been on the side of Israel, the United States and the West, but we absolutely refuse to use it.” 

Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi

Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi holds a situational assessment and discussion with reserve commanders on the Lebanese border. (IDF Spokesman’s Unit)

Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News Digital that Iran is better positioned to benefit from sitting back and letting tensions remain high while not actually launching any attack. 

“Despite the regime thoroughly benefiting from the wall-to-wall coverage of its impending “retaliation” against Israel, the more the delay, the greater the expectation for a larger attack, and the greater the likelihood of an even stronger Israeli kinetic reprisal,” he said. 

“To date, Iran has never fired at Israel directly from its own territory, nor has it ever fired ballistic missiles from its own territory at defended targets,” Taleblu said, noting that Iran could look to launch an attack from its navy or cruise missiles from outside Iranian territory. 

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“There are challenges aplenty for Iran: A strike that fails or is successfully intercepted will show the Islamic Republic as weak and invite more pressure; a strike that is successful will likely be responded to and beget a cycle of escalation Tehran can ill afford,” he explained. 

“That’s why [Iran’s Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei’s most important legacy as supreme leader for over three decades has been avoiding an outright war while keeping his ideological disposition,” Taleblu added. “He now faces the greatest challenge to that today.” 

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