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The Biden administration said on Monday that it is certain that Iran has been “facilitating attacks” against U.S. military personnel and bases around the Middle East.
During a regular press briefing, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said that over the past week, there has been “an uptick in rocket and drone attacks by Iranian-backed proxy groups against military bases housing U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria.”
He also said that the White House is “concerned about the potential for any significant escalation of these attacks in the days ahead.”
The spokesman and retired U.S. Navy admiral also confirmed that while the Iranian military is behind the attacks, the government in Tehran seeks to “maintain some level of deniability.”
“Now that we are aware, the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard] and their regime support these groups. We know Iran continues to support Hamas and Hezbollah. And we know that Iran is closely monitoring these events and, in some cases, actively facilitating these attacks and spurring on others who may want to exploit the conflict for their own good or for that of Iran,” Kirby said.
When asked what the Iranians are doing to “actively” encourage the attacks, Kirby responded that “their support for these Iran-backed proxies is no secret.”
“They’ve made no secret of it,” he continued. “Funding, resourcing. In terms of providing the rockets and the munitions that they fire; training for some of these guys.”
“There is a connection between these groups and the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard],” Kirby added. “A very direct connection.”
Kirby also said that militia groups in the region backed by Iran attacked “some of our facilities and our troops as well as our diplomats.”
“We are certainly mindful of the impact that they have and the encouragement that they give to these groups. So again, without getting ahead of where we are right now and what ways in which we might continue to hold Iran accountable, I can tell you that we are certainly not blind at all to what Iran is doing,” he said.
Republicans, meanwhile, blasted President Biden after he authorized the unfreezing of $6 billion in Iranian assets earlier this month ahead of Iran-backed Hamas’ deadly surprise attack on Israel that left more than 1,400 Israelis dead.
In exchange for five Americans held prisoner by the Iranian government, the administration unfroze the assets.
“Five Americans who had been wrongfully detained in Iran were freed as part of a high-stakes deal between Iran and the Biden administration that included the transfer of $6 billion in Iranian oil assets that were held in a restricted account in South Korea,” CBS News reported, adding that South Korea owed Iran the money for oil purchased before the Trump administration placed sanctions on such transactions in 2019.
“If Iran tries to divert the funds, we’ll take action, and we’ll lock them up again,” Kirby said at the time.
That didn’t mollify Republican critics, however.
“You can say certain funds can’t be used, but you can use other funds that may be freed up as a result,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has been running second behind former President Donald Trump for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination for months, said.
Trump added that he would not be surprised if Iran put the “tremendous wealth that they just accumulated” toward the violence in Israel.
“To think that they’re not moving money around is irresponsible,” Nikki Haley, former ambassador to the United Nations, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “They hate Israel. They hate America. They are going to continue to use this. It was wrong to release the $6 billion.”
Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said that “handing over $6 billion to Iran only helps the cause” and called on the Biden administration to refreeze the funds, according to CBS.