The U.S. rushed warships into position to protect Israel and American forces in the region, hoping to head off a direct attack from Iran on Israel that could come as soon as Friday or Saturday.

The moves by the U.S. that are part of an effort to avoid a wider conflict in the Middle East came after a warning from a person familiar with the matter about the timing and location of the potential Iranian attack.

A person briefed by the Iranian leadership, however, said that while plans to attack are being discussed, no final decision has been made.


Army Gen. Erik Kurilla, the head of U.S. Central Command, discussed a possible Iranian attack with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in Israel on Friday.

“We are prepared to defend ourselves on the ground and in the air, in close cooperation with our partners, and we will know how to respond,” Gallant said, according to Israel’s Defense Ministry.

The U.S. moves included repositioning two destroyers, one already in the region and another redirected there, U.S. officials said, adding that at least one of the vessels carried the Aegis missile-defense system.

President Biden, asked Friday when an Iranian strike on Israel may occur, said, “My expectation is sooner than later.” Asked if he had a message for Iran, Biden said: “Don’t.”

“We are devoted to the defense of Israel. We will support Israel and help defend Israel and Iran will not succeed,” Biden said.

U.S. officials fear that an Iranian strike against Israel could prompt an Israeli response inside Iran that could spark a regional conflict and draw in the U.S., whose forces and allies in the Middle East could be targeted by Tehran if its territory is hit.

John Kirby, the White House’s national security spokesman, said Friday that Iran’s threats to strike Israel remain “real” and “viable.”

Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, chief of Israel’s general staff, met with Kurilla about a possible Iranian attack after a separate meeting with commanders on the readiness of Israeli forces.

Late Thursday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had called Gallant to reassure him Washington would defend its closest ally in the region if Tehran struck on its soil.

Austin told Gallant “Israel could count on full U.S. support to defend Israel against Iranian attacks, which Tehran has publicly threatened,” a Pentagon spokesman said.