The Pentagon first released a video of planes taking off from an Air Force base in Louisiana last week. Now the US Air Force Central Command has released images of a B-52H Stratofortress bomber, which is nuclear-capable, taking off from Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar on Sunday. The Pentagon said: “This was the first mission of the Bomber Task Force deployed to US Central Command area of responsibility in order to defend American forces and interests in the region.”
The plane is reportedly being sent to the Middle East, as well as a US Navy fleet, in response to threats from Iran.
National Security Adviser John Bolton said: “Any attack on United States or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.
“The US is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepare to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guar Corps, or regular Iranian forces.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said to CNBC that the decision to deploy the military team towards Iran was to warn Tehran that Washington is ready to “respond in an appropriate way” if threatened.
He said: “We’ve seen this reporting. It’s real. It appears to be something that is current, that is things we’re worried about today.
“In the event that Iran decided to come after an American interest – whether that be in Iraq or Afghanistan or Yemen or any place in the Middle East – we are prepared to respond in an appropriate way … our aim is not war.”
But Iranian naval commander Rear Admiral Hossien Khanzadi has called for the US to leave the region, according to Reuters, which cited Iranian media.
Iranian cleric Ayatollah Tabatabai-Nejad also said Iran could “easily destroy” a US naval fleet, according to Fox News.
He said: “Their billion[-dollar] fleet can be destroyed with one missile.
“If they attempt any move, they will … [face] dozens of missiles because at that time [government] officials won’t be in charge to act cautiously.
“But instead things will be in the hands of [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei].”