Two B-52 long-range bombers flew across the Middle East as part of a simulated international bombing exercise, the U.S. Air Force announced on Monday.

The aircraft took off on Sunday from Royal Air Force Fairford in Gloucestershire, England—the U.S. Air Force’s only European airfield for heavy bombers—and flew above the eastern Mediterranean, Arabian Peninsula and Red Sea “before departing the region,” the U.S. Air Force statement said.

The B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers were accompanied by Israel Air Force planes through part of the mission. Sixteen nations provided logistical support.

The United States and its allies can “rapidly inject overwhelming combat power into the region on demand,” U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Alexus G. Grynkewich said in a statement, according to AFP.

“Threats to the U.S. and our partners will not go unanswered,” said Grynkewich, who commands the Ninth Air Force, the air component of U.S. Central Command, which covers the Middle East, among other regions.

While the general didn’t name specific adversaries, the United States in engaged in tense negotiations to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran nuclear deal.

Washington last week received Tehran’s response to comments it had sent on Aug. 24 regarding a “final” European Union draft of a new nuclear accord.

“We are studying it and will respond through the E.U., but unfortunately it is not constructive,” a State Department spokesperson said.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry said Monday that it had not yet received an official American reaction to its demands, AFP reported.

Late last month, the U.S. Air Force bombed Iranian-backed militia targets in eastern Syria.

“The United States will not hesitate to defend itself against Iranian and Iran-backed aggression when it occurs,” U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Colin Kahl said at the time.

Sunday’s simulated bombing mission was the fourth exercise of its kind this year, AFP reported.


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