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Leaders of Israel and Iran in front of fighter jets.

Jess Frampton

Iran’s attack on Israel, explained

On April 13, Iran launched hundreds of drones and missiles from its own territory in its first-ever direct, attributable attack against Israel, thrusting the long-simmering shadow war between the two regional foes into the light.

This show of force reflects a dramatic shift in strategy from Tehran, which had previously relied exclusively on its proxies to target Israel. The inflection point was Israel’s bombing of the Iranian consulate in Damascus on April 1, which killed the senior-most Iranian military leader in Syria and was compared to an attack “on Iranian soil” – a bright red line for the Islamic Republic. So from Iran’s perspective, it was Israel that crossed the rubicon first. Last weekend’s attack was a proportional response in that view – and a measured one at that.

Does that hold up? What comes next? And what does it all mean?

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Trump's military exit ramp

CNN and the New York Times reported on Monday that before he leaves office on January 20, President Trump will order the withdrawal of nearly half the US troops still serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, and nearly all who remain in Somalia.

If he follows through, this will be the president's final step toward ending the costly US commitment to fight terrorism and bolstering the stability of fragile governments in these countries.

The plan has drawn plenty of fire from within the US government. Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper not long after Esper had informed the White House that he and Pentagon top brass believed that security conditions had not been met for a troop drawdown.

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