24 U.S. troops injured in attacks since Gaza war began, officials say ForthMGN

24 U.S. troops injured in attacks since Gaza war began, officials say ForthMGN

At least 24 U.S. troops were hurt amid a wave of attacks on their bases in Iraq and Syria over the past week, including one incident that caused injuries to 20 personnel, officials said Tuesday.

The Biden administration, for days, has withheld those details while acknowledging that service members in the Middle East are under heightened risk as Israel prepares to launch a ground offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Hamas has a long-standing relationship with Iran, which provides its fighters with weapons and training, fueling fears that groups across the region receiving similar support from Tehran will step up their targeting of U.S. personnel.

The most significant of these most recent attacks occurred Oct. 18 at the al-Tanf Garrison in southeastern Syria, where 20 troops suffered what U.S. military officials characterized as “minor injuries” when multiple one-way drones targeted the base, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the issue is considered highly sensitive. All affected personnel have returned to duty, officials said.

That same day, multiple drones also were launched against U.S. and coalition forces in two separate attacks on Ain al-Asad Air Base in western Iraq, officials said. At least four people suffered “minor injuries” and returned to duty, though a hangar holding small aircraft was destroyed, they say.

In a third incident that day, a U.S. citizen working as a contractor died after suffering cardiac arrest when an early warning system detected another possible threat approaching the base, prompting another scramble to take shelter. The death was previously disclosed by the Pentagon.

The following day, on Oct. 19, U.S. and coalition forces endured rocket attacks at three installations: Mission Support Site Euphrates in Syria, Ain al-Asad Air Base and the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center in Iraq, officials said. There were no casualties or infrastructure damage in those incidents, they said.

Attacks continued over each of the next three days, with one-way drones hitting unoccupied areas in Bashur, Iraq, and targeting Ain al-Asad and al-Tanf again.

Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters earlier Tuesday that there had been 13 attacks over the last week, with 10 in Iraq and three in Syria. Pressed for additional details, he said that U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. military operations in the Middle East, was compiling a “comprehensive list for the public record” to be released “as soon as possible.”

“We’re still continuing to ensure that this accounts for everything,” he said. “We’ll get that to you as soon as possible.”

NBC News first reported the number of injured American personnel.

About 2,500 U.S. troops are in Iraq and 900 are in Syria, part of an enduring mission to prevent a resurgence in the Islamic State militant group. Ryder said during Tuesday’s Pentagon news conference that “we know” the militias responsible for the attacks are supported by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the United States designated a foreign terrorist organization in 2019.

“What we are seeing,” he added, “is the prospect for more significant escalation against U.S. forces and personnel across the region in the very near-term coming from Iranian proxy forces and ultimately from Iran.”

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