‘We do not seek conflict with Iran,’ says Pentagon chief

Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin

The Pentagon chief has stressed that the United States is not after a conflict with Iran shortly after Tehran launched retaliatory strikes against the Israeli-occupied territories following the regime’s recent aggression on the Islamic Republic’s diplomatic facilities in Syria.

Lloyd Austin made the statement in a post on his X social media account on Sunday after Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) targeted Israel with a barrage of drones and missiles in response to the regime’s assault on the consular section of the Iranian Embassy in Damascus on April 1.

The retaliatory attack by Iran, which was supported and accompanied by similar strikes from resistance groups in the region, has inflicted a yet-to-be-specified extent of damage on Israeli military bases across the occupied territories.

Condemning the Iranian retaliation as “reckless and unprecedented,” Austin claimed that US forces had “intercepted dozens of missiles and UAVs en route to Israel, launched from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.”

The Pentagon chief also called on Iran to immediately halt any further attacks and to de-escalate tensions.

“We do not seek conflict with Iran, but we will not hesitate to act to protect our forces and support the defense of Israel,” Austin stressed in his post on X.

Iran’s permanent mission to the United Nations defended the country’s retaliation against the Israeli regime’s recent terrorist attack on the Islamic Republic’s diplomatic premises in the Syrian capital. 

“Iran’s military action was based on Article 51 of the United Nations Charter concerning legitimate defense in response to the Zionist regime’s aggression against our diplomatic premises in Damascus,” the mission said in a statement on Saturday.

The mission, however, warned that if the Israeli regime perpetrated another mistake, Iran’s subsequent response could be “remarkably more intense.”

The Israeli attack on Iran's diplomatic facilities in Syria resulted in the martyrdom of Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a commander of the IRGC's Quds Force, his deputy, General Mohammad Hadi Haji Rahimi, and five of their accompanying officers.

The terrorist attack drew sharp condemnation from senior Iranian political and military leaders, who vowed "definitive revenge."

During a speech in Tehran on Wednesday after leading the Eid al-Fitr prayers, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said the Israeli regime “must be punished and will be punished” for the deadly strike on the Iranian diplomatic premises.

The international community also condemned the Israeli aggression on the Iranian consulate in Damascus’s Mezzeh district.

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