The Biden administration announced on Monday that it has evidence that Iran is actively facilitating attacks against U.S. military personnel and bases in the Middle East region.
National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby reported at a press briefing that, within the past week, there has been an increase in rocket and drone assaults launched by Iranian-backed proxy groups at military bases inhabited by American troops in Iraq and Syria.
The White House expressed its concern about potential escalations of such attacks going forward. Admiral Kirby also confirmed that Iran’s armed forces are behind these assaults, yet they strive to maintain a certain degree 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.”
Militia groups in the region supported by Iran, according to Kirby, conducted assaults against U.S. forces, facilities and diplomatic personnel.
“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.
The Republican party expressed strong criticism towards President Biden following his authorization of the release of $6 billion in Iranian assets earlier this month.
This action was taken in response to the five American citizens held prisoner by the Iranian government. However, shortly after this decision, Iran-backed Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel that resulted in over 1,400 Israelis dead.
“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.
President Trump suggested that it would not be surprising if Iran utilized the resources they had recently acquired to fund violent activities against 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.