The Pentagon said on Thursday that about 900 troops are in the process of deploying to the Middle East as the US is bolstering its defenses in the region amid a spate of attacks on US forces in Iraq and Syria over President Biden’s support for Israel’s Gaza war.
The deployment includes troops who were recently notified to be prepared to be deployed. Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said the deployment was part of the US effort to send more air defense systems to the region, including a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery and Patriot systems. Ryder did not say where the troops were being deployed, just that they weren’t going to Israel.
US troops based in Iraq and Syria have come under rocket and drone attacks over a dozen times since last week, resulting in at least 21 injuries. Ryder said 19 troops had been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries.
The attacks have continued, as Ryder said a base housing US troops in Iraq was targeted again on Thursday. A militia group that calls itself the Islamic Resistance in Iraq said it launched two drones in the northern Erbil province and described the attack as “unsuccessful.”
The US has not attributed blame for the attacks to a specific group but is pointing the finger at Iran as it supports Shia militias that operate in Iraq and Syria. However, the groups can act independently, and the Pentagon has acknowledged it has no evidence Iran has ordered the attacks.
“I’m not going to have more specific information to provide to you from here in terms of specific groups that have claimed responsibility, other than to say we know that these groups are affiliated with Iran,” Ryder said.