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Israel keeping US in the dark about its covert attacks in Iran, says report

US officials are watching for risk of escalation between regional foes ahead of President Biden's trip to the Middle East, CNN reports
Mourners gather around the coffin of Iran's Revolutionary Guard colonel, Sayyad Khodaei, who was reportedly killed by Israel, on 24 May 2022 (AFP)

Israel is ramping up its attacks on Iranian nuclear sites and scientists, while keeping the US largely in the dark about its covert actions, according to a CNN report citing current and former US officials.

According to the report, the US is watching carefully for any signs of escalation between Israel and Iran in the lead-up to President Biden's visit to the region next month.

A series of killings of military figures inside Iran has also raised speculation about Israeli involvement. Last month, a senior member of Iran's Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force, Sayyad Khodaei, was assassinated in Tehran, while in May two Iranian men died of mysterious causes inside the country. 

CNN reported that a US official and "another source briefed on the intelligence" confirmed that Israel was behind Khodaei's assassination, as had previously been reported by the New York Times.

It added that Israel has kept the Biden administration in the dark about these operations, neither updating the officials beforehand nor discussing its role in them afterwards.

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Israel and Iran have been engaged in a long-running shadow war. But in recent months, several reports have indicated that Israel is intensifying its campaign against the Islamic Republic.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Israel has reportedly used small drones to strike Iranian nuclear facilities and bases.

In response to Israel's operations, Iran has raised its aerospace defence force alert levels, a potential indicator that Tehran may consider retaliating against Israeli strikes, the officials told CNN.

On Tuesday, Iran announced that it would put on trial what it said were three Mossad-linked agents arrested in April for planning to assassinate scientists involved in the country's nuclear programme.

Senior Israeli officials have also warned citizens in recent weeks against travelling to Turkey over the risk of Iranian agents looking to "catch and kill" Israelis, in order to take revenge for the killings of Iranian military officials.

Tensions in the region have been running high amid stalled talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. Israel and several of Washington's Arab allies oppose the agreement and have voiced concern over the Biden administration's efforts to return to the accord.

On Monday, Israel's defence minister revealed that the country is helping build a US-led regional air-defence alliance against Iran with Arab countries.