Biden tells Netanyahu US would not take part in Israeli counter strike against Iran

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -President Joe Biden has told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the United States would not participate in any Israeli counter-offensive against Iran, U.S. officials said on Sunday.

Iran launched hundreds of drones and missiles at Israel on Saturday night in response to a suspected Israeli attack on Iran's Syria consulate on April 1.

In a statement issued late on Saturday following the attacks, Biden said he told Netanyahu that Israel had "demonstrated a remarkable capacity to defend against and defeat even unprecedented attacks."

Biden did not say in the statement if he and Netanyahu discussed a possible Israeli response or potential U.S. involvement.

"We believe Israel has freedom of action to protect itself and defend itself, in Syria or elsewhere... That's a long-standing policy and that remains, but no we would not envision ourselves participating in such a thing," one senior U.S. administration official said.

John Kirby, the White House's top national security spokesperson, told ABC's "This Week" program on Sunday that the United States will continue to help Israel defend itself, but does not want war with Iran.

Asked if the United States would support retaliation from Israel in Iran, Kirby said that "our commitment is ironclad" to defending Israel and to "helping Israel defend itself."

"And as the president has said many times, we don't seek a wider war in the region. We don't seek a war with Iran. And I think I will leave it at that," Kirby added.

"We don't seek escalated tensions in the region. We don't seek a wider conflict," Kirby said.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Additional reporting by Leah Douglas; Editing by Will Dunham and Michael Perry)