WASHINGTON — American and allied forces in Iraq and Syria have been attacked with drones and rockets 23 times this month, a senior US defense official said Monday, as regional tensions soar over the Israel-Hamas war.
Washington has blamed the spike in attacks on Iran-backed forces, and American warplanes carried out strikes last week against sites in Syria that the Pentagon said were linked to Tehran.
“From October 17 to October 30, US and coalition forces have been attacked at least 14 separate times in Iraq and nine separate times in Syria,” the official said, referring to members of the international coalition against the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) terror group.
The attacks were carried out “through a mix of one-way attack drones and rockets,” and “most failed to reach their targets thanks to our robust defenses,” the official told journalists.
The number of attacks in Syria has risen by three since Friday, coinciding with reports of US troops being targeted in that country over the weekend and claims of responsibility from a group calling itself the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq,” which has said it carried out many of the recent strikes.
The Pentagon has previously put the toll from the attacks at 21 American personnel who suffered minor injuries and a contractor who died of a cardiac event during a false alarm.
The US official said there was nothing new to report on casualties from the attacks.
The surge in attacks on US troops is linked to the war between Israel and Hamas, which began when the terror group carried out a devastating cross-border attack from Gaza on October 7. Over 2,500 terrorists invaded Israel, rampaging murderously through southern areas, overrunning communities and slaughtering those they found. The gunmen killed more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and abducted at least 243 people of all ages, including toddlers, who are being held captive in Gaza.
Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas and remove it from power in the Gaza Strip where the Islamist group has ruled since taking over in a bloody coup in 2007. The IDF has carried out intensive strikes on Gaza saying it is hitting terror targets while striving to minimize civilian casualties.
Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry says more than 8,300 people have been killed in the war, many of them children. The figures issued by the terror group cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include its own members killed in Gaza and Israel, as well as the victims of what Israel says are hundreds of errant Palestinian rockets aimed at Israel that have landed inside the Strip since the war began.
Israel’s campaign has sparked widespread anger across the Middle East.
There are roughly 2,500 American troops in Iraq and some 900 in Syria as part of efforts to prevent a resurgence of IS, which once held significant territory in both countries, but was pushed back by local ground forces backed by international air strikes in a bloody multi-year conflict.