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Senator Lindsey Graham is urging the Biden administration to blow parts of Iran “off the map.”
“Without Iran there are no Houthis,” Graham told Fox News on Wednesday. “The Houthis are completely backed by Iran. I have been saying for six months now…hit Iran. They have oil fields out in the open, they have the Revolutionary Guard headquarters you can see from space. Blow it off the map.”
He continued: “If you really want to protect American soldiers, make it real to the ayatollah [that if] you attack a solider through a proxy, we’re coming after you.”
Graham’s comments follow attacks by Iran-backed militias on U.S. troops in the region, which have stepped up. There have been more than 100 attacks on troops in Iraq and Syria this year.
On Monday, one person was critically injured and two others hurt in a drone attack on a U.S. base in Irbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, which is linked to Kataib Hezbollah, said it was responsible. The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence describes Kataib Hezbollah as a group that “poses a high threat to US diplomatic and military personnel in Iraq and Syria” and “seeks to establish an Iran-aligned government in Iraq.”
On Wednesday, missiles were fired by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen in the Red Sea, according to the United States Central Command (CENTCOM).
Austin said “necessary and proportionate” attacks approved by President Joe Biden had been made against Kataib Hezbollah, which is supported by Iran in Iraq.
“In response to multiple attacks against coalition forces in Iraq and Syria, U.S. military forces conducted airstrikes against multiple facilities used by Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups in Iraq,” CENTCOM said Monday in a statement. “Earlier in the day, Iranian-sponsored Kataib Hezbollah terrorists and affiliated groups attacked coalition forces at Erbil, Iraq, resulting in several injuries.”
The drone attack comes amid fears that the war between Israel and Hamas, which followed the Palestinian militant group’s October 7 attack on southern Israel, could spill over into the region. Hamas is backed by Tehran, and Iranian-supported groups in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq have launched attacks on Israel and its allies in support of the Palestinian militants.
Avi Melamed, a former Israeli intelligence official and regional analyst, told Newsweek this month that the Iranian regime’s aggression “is bolstered by its assumption that the U.S. will not use the full force of its military power to counter Iran and its proxies.”
Graham said Biden and Austin are “failing our troops in the field,” despite the strikes.
“I admire him, he is a patriot, but he is not doing a good job protecting the soldiers,” Graham said, referring to Austin. “I asked him a couple of months ago: Is there a red line? Would you tell our enemies publicly that if you kill an American we are coming after you?”
Newsweek reached out to Austin’s office via email for comment.
Graham previously said he has “lost all confidence” in Austin on the situation in Gaza and the Middle East. In October, Austin was pressed by Graham on what the red line for an attack on Iran should be. Graham interrupted Austin’s response when he said “Iran should be held accountable” during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.
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