A Pentagon official said Thursday that US troops in Iraq and Syria have come under attack at least 102 times since October 17, when the attacks started due to US support for the Israeli onslaught on Gaza.
The Pentagon official told Military Times that the number includes 47 attacks in Iraq and 55 in Syria that involved a “mix of one-way attack drones, rockets, mortars, and close-range ballistic missiles.”
At least 66 US troops have been injured in the attacks so far, including five who have been awarded Purple Hearts. US officials say most of the rockets and drones fired at US bases didn’t reach their intended target.
Most of the attacks have been claimed by the Islamic Resistance of Iraq, an umbrella group of Iraqi Shia militias. The US has launched several rounds of airstrikes in Syria and Iraq in response and specifically targeted Kataib Hezbollah, one of the main Iran-aligned Shia militias in Iraq.
The latest attack that’s been confirmed by the US military took place on Wednesday. US Central Command said a 122mm rocket was fired at the Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq, causing no casualties or damage.
In 2020, Iraq’s parliament voted to expel all foreign military forces over the US drone strike in Baghdad that killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
The US refused to leave Iraq and pressured the Iraqi government to allow its forces to stay. In an effort to placate anti-US factions, the US formally changed its presence in Iraq from a combat role to an advisory role in December 2021 to help in the fight against ISIS remnants, but the US did not withdraw any troops at the time, and there are 2,500 in the country today.
In Syria, the US backs the Kurdish-led SDF and has about 900 troops occupying the eastern portion of the country, where most of Syria’s oil resources are located. The occupation is part of the US economic war against Syria, which involves crippling economic sanctions specifically designed to prevent the country’s reconstruction.