US troops face 23 drone attacks in Iraq and Syria over two weeks

As reported by the US Department of Defense (DoD) on October 30, 2023, over the past two weeks, the number of drone attacks on US military bases in Iraq and Syria has significantly increased, causing concern about the security situation in the region.
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US Marine standing in front of an EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft on Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, in 2007. (Picture source: US DoD)

These attacks commenced on October 17, with a total of 23 incidents reported, involving 14 attacks in Iraq and nine in Syria, according to an unnamed senior defense official who was not authorized to speak on the record. Many of these attacks combined attack drones and missiles.

While a considerable number of these attacks were prevented by the US military's defenses, some did succeed in bypassing these measures. As a result, at least 21 US troops have sustained injuries, albeit described as "minor," and have returned to their duties.

Two of these incidents occurred at the al-Asad airbase in Iraq on October 17, and at the al-Tanf garrison in Syria on October 18, as confirmed by Pentagon spokesman Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder. The elevated frequency of these assaults is partly attributed to the US government's commitment to support Israel following an attack by Hamas on October 7.

In response to these attacks, the US conducted strikes on two sites in eastern Syria associated with Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, a group known for its collaboration with local militias. US officials have emphasized their commitment to safeguarding American personnel and interests abroad.

Additional protective measures have been taken in the Middle East to prepare for potential future attacks. These include the activation of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery and the deployment of two Patriot missile air defense battalions to locations within the US Central Command's area of responsibility.

The US military has attributed these attacks to local irregular forces with connections to Iran. One senior Pentagon official noted that the attacks are associated with Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which use infrastructure, militants, and proxies in the Middle East.