Pentagon chief supports de-escalation in Israel-Palestinian conflict

U.S. Secretary of Defense Austin meets NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg in Brussels

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed his support for a de-escalation in fighting between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas in a call with his Israeli counterpart on Tuesday, the Pentagon said.

"Austin reiterated the United States' unwavering support for Israel's right to defend itself and to protect Israeli civilians, and lamented the loss of innocent Israeli and Palestinian lives," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.

"Austin expressed his support for de-escalation of the conflict and the restoration of calm," Kirby added.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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