Top U.S. General Warns Israeli Offensive in Lebanon Could Trigger Wider War
Top U.S. General Warns Israeli Offensive in Lebanon Could Trigger Wider War

ESPARGOS: The highest-ranking U.S. military officer warned on Sunday that any Israeli military action in Lebanon could provoke a response from Iran, leading to a broader conflict and endangering U.S. forces in the region.

General CQ Brown, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, emphasized that Iran would likely increase its support for Hezbollah if the militant group in Lebanon were significantly threatened. While Tehran already supports Hamas militants in Gaza, its backing for Hezbollah could escalate if the group faced direct military action from Israel.

Speaking to reporters en route to a defense meeting in Botswana, Brown highlighted the risks of such an offensive. Israeli officials have threatened military action in Lebanon unless a negotiated solution can be reached to reduce Hezbollah's presence near the border. Recently, Israel's military announced it had approved plans for an offensive in Lebanon, even as the U.S. attempts to prevent ongoing cross-border attacks from escalating into full-scale war.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed hope for a diplomatic resolution but stated that Israel is prepared to take military action if necessary. "We can fight on several fronts and we are prepared to do that," he said.

Efforts for a diplomatic solution are ongoing. This week, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is set to meet with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and other senior U.S. officials in Washington to discuss the situation. Last week, President Joe Biden’s senior adviser, Amos Hochstein, visited Lebanon and Israel to help deescalate tensions. He described the situation as "very serious" and stressed the urgency of finding a diplomatic solution to avoid a larger conflict.

General Brown also noted that the U.S. may not be able to assist Israel in defending against a broader Hezbollah conflict as effectively as it did against Iranian missile and drone attacks in April. He pointed out the challenge of countering the shorter-range rockets frequently fired by Hezbollah into Israel.

The U.S. continues to engage with Israeli leaders, cautioning against actions that could widen the conflict. Brown's key message is to consider the broader implications of any operation in Lebanon and its potential impact on the region and U.S. forces.

Pentagon officials have echoed these concerns. During a recent phone call, Secretary Austin discussed the risks of a broader conflict with Minister Gallant. Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder stated last week that the U.S. is urging all parties to restore calm along the border and seek a diplomatic resolution.

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