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US: No evidence of direct Iranian role in al-Aqsa Storm Operation

United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin

The United States has said it has come by no evidence pointing to Iran's "direct involvement" in the recent surprise operation by the Gaza Strip's resistance movements against the Israeli regime.

"[W]e don't have any evidence that there was direct involvement in the planning or the execution of this attack," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Tuesday.

That assessment was echoed by the US State Department.

"Our experience in these matters tells us that it's premature to draw any final conclusions about this issue," spokesman Matthew Miller told journalists.

"We'll be looking at additional intelligence in the coming weeks and days to inform our thinking on this issue...," he added. 

Gaza's Hamas and Islamic Jihad resistance movements initiated Operation al-Aqsa Storm on Saturday, killing hundreds of Israeli forces and illegal settlers and taking many others among them hostage. The resistance fighters say they waged the operation against the occupying regime in response to its decades-long campaign of bloodshed and destruction against Palestinians.

On Sunday, US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who is notorious for his changeless anti-Iran stance, accused Tehran of being behind the operation, saying “Iran should pay dearly for any escalation directed at Israel.” 

He urged that Israel and the United States "go after the Iranian oil refineries and oil infrastructure - which is the lifeblood of the Iranian economy” in case of, what he called, “an attack by [the Lebanese resistance movement of] Hezbollah, and other Iranian proxies."

The spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry responded on Monday by saying the country would not hesitate to deliver a crushing response to enemies in case they make any foolish move against it.

US reassures support for Israel amid bloodshed of Gazans

Austin, meanwhile, re-emphasized the US's support for Israel, which, calling up an unprecedented 300,000 reservists, has declared a long war on Gaza in response to Operation al-Aqsa Storm. The Israeli aggression has so far killed 900 Palestinians, including 260 children and 230 women, and injured as many as 4,600 others.

"My focus is to make sure that we do everything we can as quickly as we can to support Israel as they defend their sovereign territory," he said.

Washington has already sent an aircraft carrier and other warships to the eastern Mediterranean. It is also providing other assistance, including sharing intelligence with the occupying regime.

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