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U.S. sending warships, fighters to Israel: Pentagon chief


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Washington: U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Sunday that the Pentagon is sending warships and fighter jets to the Eastern Mediterranean region in a show of support for Israel amid escalating conflicts between Israeli forces and Hamas fighters.

Austin said in a statement that he had directed the movement of the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, which consists of an aircraft carrier, a guided missile cruiser and four guided missile destroyers, to the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Pentagon had also “taken steps to augment U.S. Air Force F-35, F-15, F-16 and A-10 fighter aircraft squadrons in the region,” the defense chief said.

He added that the U.S. government “will be rapidly providing the Israel Defense Forces with additional equipment and resources, including munitions.”

The first round of U.S. security assistance to Israel “will begin moving” on Sunday “and arriving in the coming days,” Austin said.

The Pentagon’s decision came as conflict between Israel and Palestine escalated drastically Saturday after Hamas fired thousands of rockets into Israel, killing at least 600 Israelis as of Sunday, according to Israeli media reports citing government officials.

Israel’s military responded with airstrikes in Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, resulting in at least 313 Palestinian deaths, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza.

Also on Sunday, Israel’s Security Cabinet officially announced that “Israel was at war,” saying in a statement that it will carry out “meaningful military operations” in Gaza in the next days.

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