A series of attacks targeted American outposts in Iraq and Syria in the past week, with American troops being targeted by drones and rockets at least ten times in Iraq and three times in Syria since October 17. Pentagon officials have accused Iran-backed militias of being responsible for the attacks, although they have admitted that there is no evidence to directly blame Tehran’s leadership for ordering the attacks.
One of the most significant incidents occurred on October 18, when two attack drones targeted the al-Tanf military base in southern Syria. The US Central Command confirmed that twenty American troops suffered “minor injuries” in this attack. Additionally, four US personnel were injured in two drone attacks against American forces deployed at the al-Asad base in western Iraq. Tragically, a US civilian contractor also died of a “cardiac episode” while taking cover from a suspected drone attack at the same base, although no actual attack occurred.
Between October 17 and 24, the US-led coalition forces have faced a total of 13 attacks, which utilized a combination of one-way attack drones and rockets. Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the press secretary for the Pentagon, stated that CENTCOM has yet to release a comprehensive list of attacks and resulting casualties to the public.
When asked about Iran’s involvement in the attacks, a Pentagon spokesman claimed that the groups behind the attacks are supported by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Iranian regime. The White House and the Pentagon also believe that Iran was responsible for the recent string of attacks on US bases. Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken both expressed concerns of an escalation of violence by Iranian proxies. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby accused Iran of actively facilitating these attacks and supporting Hamas and Hezbollah militias in their conflict with Israel.
The United States currently maintains around 2,500 troops in Iraq and approximately 1,000 soldiers in Syria. These troops occupy key oil fields and Euphrates river crossings with the support of a Kurdish-led militia. However, the government in Damascus has repeatedly protested, asserting that their presence violates international law.
The attacks on American forces in Iraq and Syria highlight the ongoing tensions in the region and the influence of Iran-backed militias. While the US has placed blame on Iran for these attacks, the lack of concrete evidence linking Tehran’s leadership to the incidents raises questions about the extent of Iran’s involvement. As the situation continues to unfold, there are concerns about a potential escalation of violence and the impact it could have on the stability of the region.