White House Asked Pentagon for Military Options Against Iran, Report Says

The request, which a U.S. official said 'definitely rattled people,' was made after mortars launched by Iran-affiliated militants fell near the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, The Wall Street Journal reports

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton listens to U.S. President Donald Trump as he speaks in the Cabinet Room, Washington, April 9, 2018.
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U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton requested the Pentagon to provide Washington with military options to strike Iran after three mortars launched by Iran-affiliated militants fell near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

The incident occurred in early September. No one was wounded, as the shells fell in an open lot, but the event apparently spurred Washington to discuss the possibility of a military response.

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"It definitely rattled people," a former senior White House official was quoted as saying. "People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran."

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It is unclear whether U.S. President Donald Trump knew of Bolton's request or if concrete plans were drawn out for a strike, but according to the official, the Pentagon agreed to develop a set of options to attack Iran. 

In a series of interviews over the weekend, Eisenkot confirmed for the first time that Israel carried out thousands of attacks against Iranian targets in Syria. The attacks against Iranian targets, and not only on Hezbollah arms convoys, were authorized by the security cabinet in 2017.

"We noticed a significant change in Iran's strategy. Their vision was to have significant influence in Syria by building a force of up to 100,000 Shi'ite fighters from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. They built intelligence bases and an air force base within each Syrian air base,” he explained in his interview to the New York Times.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the matter on Sunday morning and said that Israel has carried out hundreds of attacks against Iranian and Hezbollah targets, confirming reports of an Israeli airstrike in Damascus on Friday night.

Speaking at the start of the weekly government meeting, Netanyahu said the Israel Air Force attacked Iranian weapons depots at the Damascus International Airport in Syria over the weekend. "The accumulation of recent attacks proves that we are determined more than ever to take action against Iran in Syria," Netanyahu said.