U.S. President Joe Biden speaks

U.S. President Joe Biden reaffirms American support for Israel while admonishing Iran not to retaliate for the April 1 attack on its Damascus consulate at the White House compound in Washington, D.C. on April 12, 2024.

(Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

US Official Says Iran's Message Is: 'Don't F*ck With Us and We Won't F*ck With You'

Israeli and U.S. leaders are bracing for what officials in both countries believe will be Iran's imminent retaliation for this month's bombing of the Iranian consulate in Damascus.

As Israel's recent attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus and Iran's anticipated retaliation threaten to draw the United States into a wider Middle East war, Tehran has reportedly been warning Washington to stay out of the escalating conflict—or face attacks on U.S. troops in the region.

Multiple U.S. officials speaking to Axios on condition of anonymity said this week that Iran's leaders have been sending back-channel messages to the Biden administration via several Arab countries warning against more intervention.

"The Iranian message was we will attack the forces that attack us, so don't fuck with us and we won't fuck with you," one U.S. official said.

Pentagon officials said Friday that the U.S. is "moving additional assets" to the Middle East to boost regional deterrence and force protection.

When asked during a Friday press conference what his message to Iran was "at this moment," Biden replied with one word: "Don't."

"We are devoted to the defense of Israel. We will support Israel. We will help defend Israel," the president subsequently said. "And Iran will not succeed."

Biden's remarks came as the Middle East and beyond brace for Iran's promised retaliation for the April 1 bombing of the Iranian consulate in Damascus, which killed 16 people including Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps senior commander Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi and other IRGC officers, as well as civilians.

Some Iranians called the attack a "declaration of war" against the Islamic Republic.

Biden administration officials maintain the U.S. had nothing to do with the consulate bombing. However, Iranian officials have said that they hold Washington responsible for the strike.

The U.S. president has already ordered attacks on Iran-linked militias in Syria and Iraq, and along with the U.K. has led a sustained bombing campaign against Tehran's Houthi allies in Yemen.

On Thursday, the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem issued a security warning and restricted its staffers' travel in anticipation of a possibly imminent Iranian response to the Damascus attack. According toPolitico, U.S. officials believe that "Iran is calibrating its plans for a major retaliatory strike against Israel to send a message—but not spark a regional war that compels Washington to respond."

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Thursday that "a direct Iranian attack will require an appropriate Israeli response against Iran."

On Friday, Hezbollah militants launched dozens of rockets and armed drones from southern Lebanon into Israel, with most of the projectiles destroyed by Israeli air defenses. Israeli warplanes reportedly bombed Hezbollah sites in Lebanon in response.

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