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American B-52 bombers fly 'presence patrol' over Middle East

The flights follow comments from Secretary of State Michael Pompeo that Iran has offered safe haven to al-Qa’ida.

Updated: January 17, 2021 - 6:32pm

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For the second time this year, the U.S. on Sunday sent B-52 bombers to fly a "presence patrol" in the Middle East, military officials said.

The massive "Stratofortress" aircraft were dispatched as part of an ongoing series of Bomber Task Force missions in the area. 

"Short-term deployments of strategic assets are an important part of our defensive posture in the region," said Gen. Frank McKenzie, who leads U.S. Central Command. The Tampa, Florida-based command is responsible for American military operations in the Middle East and elsewhere.

"The training opportunity and continued integration with regional partners improves readiness and delivers a clear and consistent message in the operational environment to both friends and potential adversaries, alike," McKenzie said in a Jan. 17 statement.

McKenzie did not specify which potential adversaries the message is directed at, but the flights follow comments last week from Secretary of State Michael Pompeo that Iran has offered safe haven to al-Qa’ida terrorists.

The U.S. military did not say how many aircraft took part in the Jan. 17 Bomber Task Force Mission. Two B-52's were spotted flying over Israel on Sunday, headed toward the Persian Gulf, the Jerusalem Post reported.

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