The United States they do not consider that an order has been given by him Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for attacks on US troops in the Middle East, a Pentagon spokesman said today, following an increase in attacks in Iraq and Syria attributed to pro-Iranian groups.

US forces have been repeatedly targeted by rockets and drones since Israel’s war on Gaza began on October 7, after militants from the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas attacked Israeli territory.

“We don’t necessarily believe that Iran has given them an explicit order to launch these types of attacks,” Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder told reporters.

Pressed to answer questions on the matter, Ryder added: “We haven’t seen any explicit order, for example, from the supreme leader, saying, ‘Go and do this.'”

Ryder said, however, that the United States ultimately believes that the Tehran bears responsibility for such attacks by armed organizations “due to the fact that they are supported by Iran”.

Iranian security officials told Reuters that Iran’s strategy with regard to supported groups such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah is to seek limited strikes on Israel and US targets, but to avoid a major escalation that would involve Tehran.

Yesterday, Sunday, its high-ranking officials Biden administrationincluding Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned of the risk of escalating attacks against US military forces in the Middle East and the possibility that Iran might seek to expand the Israel-Hamas war.

Over the weekend, Austin ordered additional air defense systems to be sent to the Middle East to ensure the safety of troops. He said that Pentagon will send a THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system and additional Patriot missiles to the region.

The United States has also sent warships and fighter jets to the region in an effort to prevent Iran and Tehran-backed groups from escalating the conflict. This includes the deployment of two aircraft carriers and approximately 2,000 marines.

“No one wants to see a wider regional conflict, but we will not hesitate to protect our forces,” Ryder said.