Tensions between the US and Iran have been steadily escalating since 2018, when Mr Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and reimposed tough new economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
The Iran nuclear deal was crucial to boosting stability in the Middle East because it forced Iran to reduce its uranium stockpile (used in nuclear weapons) in exchange for global powers lifting restrictions on the country’s trade.
Mr Hoffman said US troops in the region had been on high alert “due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces and interests in the region”.
“As we evaluate the situation and our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend US personnel, partners, and allies in the region,” the Pentagon said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison responded to the crisis by directing the Chief of the Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, to “take whatever actions are necessary to protect and defend our ADF and diplomatic personnel and keep Australians safe”.
“The government is closely monitoring the unfolding events in Iraq,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement.
MrMorrison and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds will meet with Cabinet colleagues on Thursday to decide the fate of Australian troops and diplomatic staff stationed in Iraq.
He revealed he had discussed operations in Iraq with Mr Trump on Tuesday after the assassination of General Soleimani.
Mr Morrison confirmed Australia’s plans would be heavily influenced by the US response.
“We will work continually closely with them,” he said.