Iranian-linked militants have allegedly begun attacking American troops in the Middle East again. On Friday, seven mortar rounds hit the American embassy compound in Baghdad, according to a U.S. military official. The attacks are the largest attack against American forces in the region “in recent memory.”
The shelling comes following a brief pause in the fighting that had begun in the middle of October.
U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria were also targeted with rockets and drones at least five more times on Friday; three times at separate bases in Syria, and twice at the Ain al-Asad airbase west of Baghdad, a U.S. defense official told Reuters.
The attacks were the most recorded against U.S. forces in the region in a single day since mid-October, when Iran-aligned militias started targeting U.S. assets in Iraq and Syria over Washington’s backing of Israel in its war against Hamas in Gaza.
The embassy attack marked the first time it had been fired on in more than a year, apparently widening the range of targets. Dozens of military bases housing U.S. forces have been attacked, increasing fears of a broadening regional conflict.
No group claimed responsibility, but previous attacks against U.S. forces have been carried out by Iran-aligned militias operating under the banner of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq.
Weeks after the terrorist attack against Israel on October 7, Iran began saber-rattling against both Israel and the United States. The Iranian foreign minister warned that any land invasion to defeat Hamas would lead to Iranian “intervention” and an escalation of violence.
The Biden Administration has seen its coddling up to Iran blow up in its face over the past few months. Days after the Hamas attacks, the Biden administration defended having an alleged spy from Iran in the Pentagon. In August, Robert Malley, Biden’s “special envoy” to the theocratic regime was placed on leave after it was revealed that he was secretly giving assistance to Iran.
In November, the White House received heavy criticism for releasing nearly $10 billion to Iran, which in turn has used part of the money to attack American troops.
Regardless of how nice the Biden administration plays, the Iranians continue to try and kill American soldiers.
Business Insider reported that “the new wave of attacks, widely described by US officials as an “uptick,” began amid swelling anger throughout the region over Israel’s war against Hamas and its bombardment of the Gaza Strip, a response to the October 7 terror attacks perpetrated by Hamas against Israel. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, which an umbrella term describing the recent operations that Iran-backed militias have conducted in Iraq and Syria, has claimed responsibility for the attacks against US forces.
A Pentagon spokesperson said on Tuesday that since October 17, there have been 40 total attacks on US forces stationed in Iraq and Syria. Independent analyses from various think tanks, including the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Institute for the Study of War, peg the figure slightly higher than what the Biden administration has revealed publicly because they use more inclusive methods for collecting the data.
The attacks have left at least 46 service members wounded, including 25 with traumatic brain injuries, Sabrina Singh, the deputy Pentagon press secretary, told reporters. She argued that “while we see these attacks increase, we’re not seeing significant casualties or significant harm to our service members.”
Last month, The Washington Post reported that there is a growing divide happening both within the White House and Congress over the attacks. “In their public statements, Defense Department officials have sought to downplay the attacks in Iraq and Syria, describing them as often inaccurate and causing little damage to U.S. infrastructure. The troops who have been hurt all have returned to duty, they’ve said, classifying the reported brain injuries and other collateral as “minor.” The United States has also added more air defense systems into the region, which have shot down several of the drones, according to the Pentagon data.
But as the attack count has continued to climb, so too has the concern that it is only a matter of time before one claims a U.S. service member’s life.
‘I don’t sense any deterrence,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in an interview. “They keep shooting, waiting for us to respond. We don’t, so they keep shooting. And eventually one of those drones, or one of those missiles or rockets, is going to kill an American. And then we’ll be off to the races.’
‘I’m not suggesting we start a full-fledged war with Tehran,” he added. “But I do think our posture has to be a little more aggressive than just strictly defensive, because one of these days, we’re going to miss one of those drones.’”
While the White House has downplayed the attacks, over 45 American casualties have occurred since the bombings began.