U.S. Forces Take 24 Casualties to Drone and Rocket Strikes in Iraq and Syria

U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria have taken 24 casualties to drone strikes and rocket artillery attacks from October 17-24, with the bulk of these taken at Al Tanf military base in Southern Syria and the remainder taken at Al Asad base in Western Iraq. U..S-led coalition forces were attacked at least 13 times “via a mix of one way attack drones and rockets” during that period, according to U.S. Central Command Press Secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder, who emphasised at the time that the command knew “that the groups conducting these attacks are supported by the IRGC [Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] and the Iranian regime.” These attacks occurred as Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and State Secretary Antony Blinken both claimed that there was a “likelihood of escalation of violence” by Iranian aligned militia groups. Strikes on American forces in the region are far from unprecedented, and Iran previously launched limited strikes against an American military facility in Iraq directly on January 8, 2020. This was initiated in retaliation against the CIA’s assassination of Iran’s most decorated general Qasem Solemani, and caused 109 American casualties

U.S. forces in Syria in particular have frequently come under attack from local militia groups, with their presence widely condemned as illegal  due to its lack of authorisation from either the United Nations or the Syrian government. American units have been involved in mass appropriations of Syrian oil, which has been sold on abroad to finance the U.S. occupation of Northeastern Syria. Approximately 900 personnel are deployed in the country, with the contingent reinforced in 2018-2020 with heavy HIMARS rocket artillery systems, M1A2 Abrams tanks and M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles among other assets. Further American reinforcements been deployed since then, although forces have at times taken significant casualties most notably in a helicopter crash in June. The threat to American military facilities is perceived to have increased significantly since the outbreak of full scale hostilities between Israel and the Palestinian militia Hamas, with the U.S. Military having massively escalated its presence in the region raising the possibility that both Washington and Tehran could enter the war on opposing sides. America’s NATO ally Turkey and terrorist militia groups under its influence have notably also escalated provocations against the Syrian government, an ally of Hamas and Iran, while the Iranian aligned milia Hezbollah has simultaneously engaged Israeli forces in multiple skirmishes, with these also considered likely to potentially enter the war should it escalate significantly.