President Joe Biden sent two B-52 nuclear-capable bombers to fly over the Middle East in the midst of recent tensions in Iraq and Iran.
U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said the mission was designed to “deter aggression and reassure partners and allies” regarding the United States’ dedication to security in the region.
“Multiple partner nations and U.S. Air Force fighter aircraft accompanied the U.S. bombers at different points during the flight, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar,” said CENTCOM in a March 7 statement.
Suggesting the B-52 flyover was routine, CENTCOM said it often moves “aircraft and personnel into, out of, and around the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to meet mission requirements, and to train with regional partners, underscoring the importance of strategic partnerships.”
The Israeli Air Force posted photos of its own F-15 fighter planes joining the U.S. B-52H “Stratofortress” aircraft.
CENTCOM added: “Temporary long-range bomber deployments into the region dates back to 2015. This was the fourth bomber deployment into the Middle East this year.”
While the U.S. military didn’t mention Syria, Iraq, or Iran in its statement, some observers said the flyover of B-52s is a clear signal to Tehran following bellicose statements and posturing by the Islamic regime.
Today (Sunday), Israeli Air Force F-15 fighter jets escorted two American B-52 bombers through Israeli airspace.
This flight is part of the joint strategic cooperation with US forces, which is pivotal in maintaining the security of Israeli and Middle Eastern skies. pic.twitter.com/CViOa3LvBT
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) March 7, 2021
The flight by the two heavy bombers occurred after a pro-Iran satellite channel based in Beirut broadcast Iranian military drone footage of an Israeli ship hit by a mysterious explosion only days earlier. While the channel sought to say Iran wasn’t involved, Israel has blamed Tehran for what it described as an attack on the vessel.
Such flyovers were common in the last months of President Donald Trump’s administration, which pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal made under the Obama administration. Trump, at the time, called it the “one of the most incompetently drawn deals I’ve ever seen.”
Biden has expressed a desire to return to the deal if Iran honors the deal’s limits on its nuclear program. However, tensions remain high as militias in Iraq—likely backed by Iran—continue to target U.S. interests.
In February, Biden authorized an airstrike in Syria in retaliation for attacks on U.S. targets, saying the airstrikes were a warning to Iran.
“You can’t act with impunity. Be careful,” he said on Feb. 26 when asked about the incident.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.