U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria have come under attack at least five times over the past two days, according to U.S. defense officials, as Iranian-backed militias persist in their nearly month-long campaign in support of Hamas’ fight against Israel.
The Pentagon on Tuesday said the most recent rocket attack targeted an installation in Syria known as Mission Support Site Euphrates but added there were no injuries to U.S. forces and no damage to the base’s infrastructure.
U.S. military officials earlier confirmed another attack Tuesday with one-way drones targeting the air base in Irbil, Iraq.
Iranian-backed militias previously targeted Irbil Air Base on Monday, while launching two attacks on U.S. forces near Tall Baydar in Syria.
The Pentagon said none of the attacks caused any injuries or damaged infrastructure.
“We’re seeing an uptick in attacks. But so far, we have not seen any significant casualties. We’ve not seen significant damage to our infrastructure,” Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters Tuesday, confirming Iranian-backed militias have launched a total of at least 40 attacks since October 17.
U.S. forces targeted
Twenty-two of the attacks have targeted U.S. forces in Iraq, with the other 18 aimed at U.S. bases and personnel in Syria.
A total of 46 U.S. troops have been injured in the attacks, including 25 diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries, or TBI, as result of the blasts from exploding rockets or drones.
Pentagon officials have described most of the injuries as minor, saying 40 of the injured service members have returned to duty.
U.S. bolsters presence
In recent weeks, the United States has bolstered its force presence in the Middle East, sending two aircraft carrier strike groups, dozens of fighter jets, and a ballistic missile submarine to the region to deter Iran and its proxies from expanding the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
The U.S. also launched airstrikes on October 26 destroying two weapons and ammunition storage facilities used by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq.
“This is all about defending the people we have in Syria and Iraq,” a senior U.S. military official said at the time, saying the facilities were directly linked to attacks on U.S. forces.
‘An uptick in attacks’
Since then, Iranian-backed militias have increased the pace of attacks on U.S. forces on the region, though Pentagon officials note none of the attacks carried out after the U.S. airstrikes has caused any injuries or damaged U.S. facilities.
“While we are seeing an uptick in attacks, our purpose is to ensure that this conflict doesn’t widen out beyond Israel,” Singh told reporters Tuesday. “So, I would say that deterrence right now is incredibly strong on our side.”
She also denied the U.S. has been hesitant to retaliate for the drone and rocket attacks.
“We decide to respond at a time and place of our choosing. We don’t necessarily have to be tit for tat every single time,” Singh said. “We are incredibly strategic about when we decide to take kinetic action.”