In recent weeks, there has been a notable increase in drone attacks on bases in Iraq and Syria housing U.S. troops. A senior defense official revealed that the total number of these attacks has now reached at least 23. This figure includes at least 14 attacks in Iraq and at least nine attacks in Syria, all occurring since October 17th. It’s important to note that this information comes from a senior defense official who was not authorized to speak on the record.
The official pointed out that many of these attacks were successfully thwarted by the U.S. military, thanks to the robust defenses in place. However, some of the drones did manage to successfully detonate, resulting in a total of 21 U.S. troops sustaining minor injuries. These injuries were incurred during separate attacks on the al-Asad airbase in Iraq and the al-Tanf garrison in Syria on October 17th and 18th. Pentagon spokesman Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder provided this information during a briefing on Wednesday.
While bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria have experienced sporadic attacks from Iran-backed militias, there has been a noticeable uptick in such attempts during October. This escalation comes in the context of the U.S. pledging support to Israel in response to an attack by Hamas on October 7th. The U.S. response has included the deployment of two carrier strike groups, an amphibious ready group with a Marine expeditionary unit, and the activation of 2,000 troops on 24-hour prepare-to-deploy orders.
In response to the drone attacks, the U.S. took action on Thursday by striking two sites in eastern Syria that were linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, an entity known to collaborate with local militias. Pentagon spokesman Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder emphasized the U.S.’s commitment to defending its troops and interests overseas, stating, “I think we’ve been crystal clear that we maintain the inherent right of defending our troops and we will take all necessary measures to protect our forces.”
BREAKING: The U.S. launched airstrikes against two Iranian-linked locations in Syria, the Pentagon said. The strikes followed drone and missile attacks against U.S. bases and personnel in the region that started last week. https://t.co/7nbs6jFIQD
— The Associated Press (@AP) October 27, 2023
Additionally, the U.S. has increased its force protection measures in the Middle East to anticipate further attacks. This includes the activation of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery and the deployment of two Patriot missile air defense battalions to locations within U.S. Central Command.