Europe 1 with AFP / Photo credit: SIMON WOHLFAHRT / AFP 16:51 p.m., October 22, 2023

Lloyd Austin, the US Secretary of Defense, said the US would not hesitate to "act" if the country's interests were targeted. And he warned against any "organization" or "country" that might be tempted to "widen" the conflict in the Middle East.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Sunday warned any "organization" or "country" that might be tempted to "expand" the conflict in the Middle East, saying the U.S. would "not hesitate to act" if its interests were targeted. Hours after the Pentagon announced it was beefing up its military posture in the region in the face of "recent escalations by Iran and its affiliates," Lloyd Austin told ABC News that "those who would seek to expand the conflict...": Our advice is 'don't do it.' We preserve our right to defend ourselves and we will not hesitate to act accordingly."

"In fact, what we're seeing," the defense secretary insisted, "is the prospect of a significant escalation of attacks on our troops and nationals in the region." "For those reasons, we're going to do what we need to do to make sure that our troops are well positioned, protected and that we have the ability to respond," Austin said.

'Additional' military forces soon to be in a state of 'pre-deployment'

In a statement on Saturday night, the head of the Pentagon announced the deployment of a high-altitude missile defense system (THAAD) as well as several batteries of Patriot surface-to-air missiles "in the region". In addition, "additional" military forces will be placed in a state of "pre-deployment", in order to "increase their readiness and ability to respond as quickly as necessary".


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According to Lloyd Austin, the aim is to "strengthen" "regional deterrence" and "contribute to the defense of Israel." The Pentagon did not specify in its statement how many U.S. troops would be deployed in addition to the troops already present in the Near and Middle East, particularly in Iraq, where U.S. troops have recently been the target of attacks.

'Extremely unfortunate situation'

Speaking to ABC News on Sunday, the minister warned "any organization or country that seeks to widen the conflict and take advantage of this extremely unfortunate situation," but he did not name Iran or Hezbollah, which Israel accused on Sunday of "dragging Lebanon into war." Lloyd Austin said in a statement late Saturday that all the military measures were decided after "precise discussions" with President Joe Biden, who visited Israel on Wednesday.