On Thursday, three separate attacks targeted US forces in Iraq, marking the most widespread series of strikes on US assets in a single day since the onset of the Israel-Hamas conflict. Fortunately, there were no reported casualties in any of the incidents.
In the first attack, a joint patrol of US forces and the Iraqi counter-terrorism service was hit by an explosive device near Mosul, causing damage to a vehicle but resulting in no casualties. Meanwhile, armed drones targeted the al-Harir airbase in Erbil and the Ain al-Asad airbase west of Baghdad, both housing US and international forces. The drones were successfully intercepted by air defenses, preventing any casualties.
The al-Harir airbase, according to a statement from Iraqi Kurdistan’s counter-terrorism service, experienced a fire at one of its fuel depots due to the drone attacks. The base had reportedly been evacuated of US-led forces on October 20.
These attacks add to the ongoing incidents where US-led troops have been targeted approximately 40 times in Iraq and Syria since early October, stemming from the fallout of the Israel-Hamas conflict. US officials have reported 45 injuries among US soldiers during these incidents.
The United States attributes these attacks to groups backed by Iran, holding Tehran ultimately responsible, a claim that Iran denies. Iranian-backed militias in Iraq have publicly declared their intent to continue targeting US assets as long as the US supports Israel in its conflict with Gaza.
In response to these attacks, the US military conducted strikes in Syria on Wednesday to destroy weaponry and deter Iranian-backed separatist groups from targeting American personnel in the region. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin emphasized that if these attacks persist, further necessary measures will be taken to protect US forces.
In light of the increased threats, the US military is implementing additional measures to safeguard its Middle East forces. These measures include heightened patrols, restricted access to base facilities, and increased intelligence collection through drone and other surveillance operations. Additionally, there is consideration of the potential evacuation of military families if deemed necessary.