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EU chief diplomat warns of danger of escalation in Middle East

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The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has warned of a further escalation of tensions in the Middle East at an informal meeting on Saturday after US retaliatory strikes on pro-Iranian militias in Iraq and Syria.

“The Middle East is a boiler that can explode. And certainly, there are attacks both on the Lebanon border; north and south; there are attacks in Syria; there are attacks in Iraq, attacks in the Red Sea,” Borrell said.

He was referring to US retaliation for attacks in the region by the Houthis and other Iranian-backed militias on targets believed to support Israel’s war in Gaza, including US military targets.

“That is why we decided on this naval mission and that is why we call everybody to try to avoid an escalation,” he said on the sidelines of an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

He was referring to the military operation agreed to secure commercial shipping in the Red Sea aiming to halt attacks on ships by militant Islamist Houthis from Yemen in solidarity with Gaza.

Borrell called on all parties to try and avoid an escalation, in comments coming days after a deadly attack by pro-Iranian militias on US soldiers in Jordan.

In response, the US Air Force attacked dozens of targets in Iran and Syria during the night, including command centres, intelligence sites and weapons depots that are said to have been used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and associated militias, according to officials.

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