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Biden cuts beach trip short amid potential Iranian attack on Israel

President Biden cut short his weekend trip to his Delaware beach house and returned to the White House to monitor the crisis in the Middle East amid concerns of a potential, immanent Iranian attack on Israel.

Biden departed from Rehoboth Beach a day earlier than planned in order to consult with his national security team about events in the Middle East, according to the White House.

Biden on Friday said he expects Iran to attack Israel ‘sooner than later’ as Tehran continues promising to take revenge for the attack on its Damascus consulate.

‘I don’t want to get into secure information, but my expectation [is] sooner than later,’ Biden told a reporter, adding: ‘We are devoted to the defense of Israel. We will support Israel. We will defend, help defend Israel and Iran will not succeed.’

The U.S. and others have attributed the Damascus consulate attack to Israel, but no Israeli official has taken credit for the strike, which killed seven Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) members.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke with Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant on Saturday to discuss urgent regional threats, according to a readout presented to reporters by Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder.

Austin told the Israeli official that Israel could count on full U.S. support if Iran or any regional proxies attack, according to the readout.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also spoke with his Israeli counterpart, reiterating America’s ‘ironclad’ commitment to the security of Israel.

Iran has continually promised to avenge the strike on the consulate, and on Saturday appeared to ratchet tensions up even more as IRGC troops seized a Portuguese-flagged ship, the MSC Aries. Iranian officials claimed the ship was owned by an Israeli, but the U.S. disputed this and claimed the ship belonged to a British company.

‘We strongly condemn the Iranian seizure of the Portuguese flagged, British-owned MSC AIRES in international waters,’ NSC spokesperson Adrienne Watson said of the seizure, for which Iran did not provide any explanation. ‘The crew is comprised of Indian, Filipino, Pakistani, Russian and Estonian nationals.’

‘We call on Iran to release the vessel and its international crew immediately,’ Watson insisted. ‘Seizing a civilian vessel without provocation is a blatant violation of international law, and an act of piracy by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.’

‘It must be condemned unequivocally, and we will work with our partners to hold Iran to account for its actions,’ she added.

Iran earlier this week reportedly indicated to U.S. officials that it would seek a non-escalatory response without providing any more specific details.

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