The US deployed two B-52 bombers to the Middle East on Thursday that were escorted through Israeli airspace by Israeli F-35 fighter jets in the latest show of force aimed at Iran.
According to The Times of Israel, the bombers were on their way back from the Persian Gulf when they met with the Israeli jets. “The flight took place as part of the increasing cooperation with the US military,” the Israeli Defense Forces said in a statement.
US Central Command (CENTCOM), which oversees US military operations in the Middle East, said in a press release that it conducted a “Bomber Task Force mission” in the region with two B-52s. It said the bombers came from the Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisianna and integrated with “13 partner nation air forces” while on the mission.
US bomber flights in the region are common when tensions are high between Washington and Tehran. This provocation comes as negotiations between the US and Iran to revive the nuclear deal have been stalled for months, and the Biden administration has been increasing sanctions on the Islamic Republic and voicing support for Iranian protesters.
The US admitted in its new Nuclear Posture Review that Iran is not trying to build a nuclear weapon, but that hasn’t stopped the threats. Robert Malley, President Biden’s special envoy for Iran, recently said the US would use a “military option” as a “last resort” to stop Tehran from acquiring a nuclear bomb.