US commander: Threat from Iran is 'imminent'

Top commander of US forces in Middle East believes the Iranians or their proxies may orchestrate an attack at any moment.

Elad Benari,

US Army
US Army

The top commander of US forces in the Middle East told NBC News on Thursday he believes the Iranians or their proxies may orchestrate an attack at any moment.

"I think the threat is imminent," Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie said, adding, "We continually evaluate our force posture in the region."

Tensions between the US and Iran have escalated in the past month, a year after US President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

In recent weeks, Washington sent more military forces to the Middle East in a show of force against what US officials say are Iranian threats to its troops and interests in the region.

McKenzie stressed that tensions remain high.

"I don't actually believe the threat has diminished," he told NBC News after holding a series of meetings with the Iraqi prime minister and defense chief. "I believe the threat is still very real."

McKenzie said he was "heartened" by the efforts of the Iraqi government to protect American forces and its allies in the region. Roadside bombs have posed the major danger to American forces in Iraq, McKenzie added, but he said the threat from the Iranians is evolving.

"They probe for weakness all the times," McKenzie said. "I would say the threat has probably evolved in certain ways even as our defensive posture has changed and become more aggressive, and we certainly thank our Iraqi partners for many of the things they've done."

"I think we're still in the period of what I would call tactical warning," he said. "The threat is very real. "

McKenzie declined to go into specifics on the nature of the threats.