‘We don’t want to see this escalate’

The US seeking to avoid further escalations in the Middle East following Iran’s attack on Israel, White House spokesman John Kirby said.

“We don’t want to see this escalate. We are not looking for a major war with Iran,” Kirby, communications director of the US government’s National Security Council, said on Sunday, adding that the US president had been clear he was not seeking war with Iran.

The US would continue to help Israel defend itself, Kirby said, but said that how Israel responds now will be “up to them”.

The US has been Israel’s staunchest ally and biggest military supporter and has repeatedly reiterated its support as tensions escalated between Israel and Iran.

It was unclear on Sunday whether Israel would respond to Iran’s unprecedented direct attack the previous day, involving some 300 missiles and drones in retaliation for a suspected Israeli strike at the start of the month.

Iran’s “Operation Truthful Promise” was mounted in revenge for an airstrike on its embassy grounds in Damascus on April 1 in which two generals and others were killed. Israel is believed to have carried out the attack and has not denied responsibility.

Israel has been Iran’s declared arch-enemy since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

The decades-old tensions between the two countries have escalated following the outbreak of the Gaza war in October.

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