Saudi Arabia has warned the United States of an imminent Iranian attack on targets in the kingdom and in Iraq, with the U.S. military now on heightened alert, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
Riyadh shared intelligence with Washington indicating the elevated danger, causing Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and other neighboring countries to raise the alert level for their military forces, Saudi and U.S. officials told the Journal.
Asked about the report later Tuesday, Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said he would not talk about specific force protection levels but that U.S. officials “do remain concerned about the threat situation in the region.”
“We’re in regular contact with our Saudi partners in terms of what information they may have to provide on that front,” Ryder told reporters. “But what we’ve said before, and I’ll repeat it, is that we will reserve the right to protect and defend ourselves no matter where our forces are serving, whether in Iraq or elsewhere.”
Pressed on whether the Saudis provided anything to the United States in the past few days that would be a cause for concern, Ryder said he did not have any additional information to provide.
“We continue to communicate regularly,” he said. “I’ll just leave it at that.”
U.S. forces are currently in Saudi Arabia and in Iraq to help train, advise and protect against attacks from Iran-backed fighters.
Saudi officials told the Journal that Iran is set to attack areas in the kingdom as well as Erbil, Iraq, to try to distract from ongoing women-led protests in Iran. The protests began in September after the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old who died while being held by the country’s morality police
Since late September, the Iranian military has steadily attacked bases of an Iranian-Kurdish opposition group in northern Iraq, using ballistic missiles and armed drones.
During the strikes, U.S. forces brought down an Iranian drone that officials said appeared poised to attack American troops in Erbil.