The US military said on Monday that two US B-52 bombers flew a mission over the Middle East, a move that came amid heightened tensions in the region and while the US is holding EU-mediated nuclear deal negotiations with Iran. The bombers departed from the Royal Air Force base in Fairford, England for the mission which took place Sunday.
The US military didn’t mention Iran in a statement on the mission, but the US frequently dispatches bombers to the region during nuclear negotiations or amid soaring tensions with Iran.
"Threats to the U.S. and our partners will not go unanswered," Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, the top U.S. Air Force officer over the region, said in a statement. "Missions like this... showcase our ability to combine forces to deter and, if necessary, defeat our adversaries."
The statement said that the bombers flew over the Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Red Sea and were joined by warplanes from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait before leaving the Middle East.
According to the Israeli military, the US bombers were escorted by three Israeli F-16s while they flew through Israeli airspace toward the Persian Gulf.
"The flight was held as part of close cooperation with the US military, which represents a significant element in ensuring the security of the State of Israel’s airspace and the Middle East," the Israeli Defense Forces said in a statement.
The flight came as Israel is pressing the US to establish a credible military threat against Iran to get Tehran to make concessions in the nuclear deal negotiations. Israel is strongly opposed to a revival of the deal, known as the JCPOA, and has stepped up pressure to influence the Biden administration on the issue.
Israel frequently carries out covert attacks inside Iran and has been threatening to launch more overt operations against the Islamic Republic.
According to the US ambassador to Israel, President Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid in a phone call last week that the US wouldn’t "tie Israel’s hands" to prevent it from attacking Iran.