Joint Chiefs chair warns Iran would come to Hezbollah’s aid

Air Force Gen. CQ Brown, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned Sunday that an Israeli invasion of Lebanon against Hezbollah could spark opposition from Iran, potentially putting U.S. troops in the region at risk.

The comments underline Biden administration pressure on the Israeli government not to move against Hezbollah, as tensions rise in the region amid the Israel-Hamas war.

Brown said that Iran “would be more inclined to support Hezbollah,” adding that Iran would likely give more support to the militants in Lebanon than Hamas “particularly if they felt that Hezbollah was being significantly threatened.”

The chair spoke to reporters as he traveled to Botswana for a meeting of African defense ministers, according to The Associated Press.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the Israeli offensive in Gaza is “winding down,” but warned that a war against Hezbollah in Lebanon could be on the horizon, as border tensions rise.

The prime minister said he hoped a diplomatic solution to the crisis could be found but vowed to solve the problem “in a different way” if needed. ″We can fight on several fronts, and we are prepared to do that,” he said.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant was in Washington on Sunday to meet with senior Pentagon officials about the tensions.

In recent weeks, Israeli officials have increasingly warned that a wider conflict is inevitable with Hezbollah. As the cross-border shelling has become more intense, Netanyahu warned earlier this month that “one way or another” Israel “will restore security to the north.”

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby stressed Thursday that “conversations are ongoing” between officials in the region who are still holding out hopes for a diplomatic solution.

“We still don’t want to see a second front opened up,” he told reporters. “Obviously, we take the tensions and the rhetoric seriously by both sides. And we’re doing everything we can to try to prevent that outcome.”

U.S. envoy Amos Hochstein and the Biden administration have proposed a diplomatic plan to solve the growing crisis. But it is likely only to be possible after a cease-fire in Gaza. And it’s unclear if Hezbollah would agree to the deal. Israel has threatened to enforce the lines by force if needed.

Brad Dress contributed.

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