December 10, 2023

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Retired general ‘can only hope’ Iran, proxies don’t escalate Middle East conflict

Retired U.S. Gen. said “we can only hope” Iranian proxies and Iran-backed groups do not take the war between Israel and militant group Hamas to a “much higher level.”

Asked on ABC News’s “This Week,” if the U.S. should be doing more about a potential escalation of the conflict, Abrams said, “We can only hope that Iran and its proxies don’t take this to a much higher level.”

Abrams’s comments echo those of U.S. and world leaders who have expressed concerns over an escalation of conflict in the Middle East following militant group Hamas’s bloody massacre of Israel over three weeks ago that left over 1,400 Israelis dead in their homes, at a bus stop and at a music festival.

Hamas has been backed by Iran in the past, though it is not immediately clear the exact role Iran or its proxies played in the Oct. 7 attack.



Attacks on American forces have increased since Hamas’s surprise incursion on Oct. 7, fueling worries that Iran and its proxies could seek to widen the conflict and destabilize the region.

Last week, U.S. fighter jets struck two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran and its proxies following attacks against U.S. troopers in the region.

Defense officials told reporters President Biden ordered U.S. military forces to carry out “self-defense airstrikes” on a weapons storage facility and an ammunition storage area used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Defense Sectary Lloyd Austin said last week the strikes by F-16 fighter jets are in response to a series of ongoing and mostly unsuccessful attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria by “Iranian-backed militia groups,” that began earlier this month.

Abrams said the U.S. should “continue to escalate that sort of portion of this protection of protection of our troops.”

“Because as the national security adviser [Jake Sullivan] just said, the military, the U.S military will take all the actions necessary to defend their troops,” Abrams said, in reference to Sullivan’s earlier comments on “This Week,” where he vowed continued U.S. response to any attacks on U.S. troops by Iranian-backed groups or Iran’s proxies.

Israel has responded to Hamas with a bombardment of Gaza that ramped up over the weekend ahead of an expected ground incursion by Israeli forces. Over 8,000 Palestinians have died so far in the conflict, the Gaza Health Ministry reported on Sunday.

The U.S. has offered its “unwavering support,” of Israel, while U.S. officials have noted Israel’s reasonability to keep Palestinian civilians’ lives in mind while defending itself against Hamas.

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