Blinken warns of ‘swift, decisive’ response in case of Iranian attack on U.S. troops amid Middle East conflict

October 25, 2023

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Tuesday that America will respond “swiftly and decisively” in the event of Iranian or proxy group attacks on American personnel in the Middle East.

Blinken made the remarks at a U.N. Security Council (UNSC) ministerial meeting in New York as U.S. and coalition forces were attacked at least 10 separate times in Iraq and three times in Syria between Oct. 17 and Tuesday, according to the Pentagon.

The U.S. has not yet obtained any intelligence indicating Iran’s direct involvement in the Hamas militant group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel, but its officials have said the Islamic republic is “broadly” complicit given its history of backing Hamas and other proxy groups in the region.

“What we have consistently said to Iranian officials through other channels: The United States does not seek conflict with Iran. We do not want this war to widen,” Blinken said at the meeting regarding the situation in the Middle East.

“But if Iran or its proxies attack U.S. personnel anywhere, make no mistake: We will defend our people, we will defend our security — swiftly and decisively,” he added.

The secretary also called on UNSC member states to join U.S. efforts to prevent an escalation of the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

“If you, like the U.S., want to prevent this conflict from spreading, tell Iran, tell its proxies — in public, in private, through every means — do not open another front against Israel in this conflict; do not attack Israel’s partners,” he said.

“We urge members to go a step further: Make clear that if Iran or its proxies widen this conflict and put more civilians at risk, you will hold them accountable. Act as if the security and stability of the entire region and beyond is on the line, because it is,” he added.

While highlighting Israel’s right to defend itself, Blinken underlined the “vital” need to prevent civilian casualties in the war and called for “humanitarian pauses.”

“Palestinian civilians are not to blame for the carnage committed by Hamas. Palestinian civilians must be protected. That means Hamas must avoid using them as human shields,” he said.

“It means Israel must take all possible precautions to avoid harm to civilians. … It means civilians must be able to get out of harm’s way. It means humanitarian pauses must be considered for these purposes,” he added.

The White House distinguished potential humanitarian pauses from a ceasefire.

“From the beginning, we want to see all measures of protection for civilians and pauses in an operation is a tool and a tactic that can do that for temporary periods of time,” John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, told a press briefing. “That is not the same as saying a ceasefire. Right now, we believe a ceasefire benefits Hamas.”