US forces in Iraq and Syria attacked 23 times in less than two weeks, Pentagon says

Officials blame 'Iran-backed proxy groups' for attacks

The Pentagon said three new strikes occurred on Monday and Sunday at different locations in Syria. AP
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US forces in Iraq and Syria have been attacked at least 23 times over the past 13 days, the Pentagon said on Monday, including three new incidents over the past two days.

“From October 17 to October 30, US and coalition forces have been attacked at least 14 separate times in Iraq and nine separate times in Syria through a mix of one-way attack drones and rockets, for a total of 23 attacks to date,” a senior US defence official told reporters.

“Most failed to reach their targets thanks to our robust defences.”

The US only counts attacks that come within close proximity of US forces, meaning that rockets and drones that fall farther afield are not tallied. The Pentagon has previously said at least 21 US troops have suffered “minor injuries”.

Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said three strikes occurred on Monday and Sunday at different locations in Syria. No injuries were immediately reported.

Those attacks came after the US military on Friday carried out precision strikes against two sites in eastern Syria used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and groups it backs.

The current series of attacks began on October 17, the same day Al Ahli Arab Hospital in the centre of Gaza city was hit by a devastating blast. Israel has denied responsibility and blamed a failed Hamas rocket attack.

“These are Iran-backed proxy groups that are launching these attacks. In terms of [what] they coincided [with], I'm sorry, I just wouldn't be able to speak to that or why that date,” Ms Singh said.

The senior US defence official suggested Friday's US strikes in Syria were unlikely to be the last such response.

“We reserve the right to respond in the at a time and place of our choosing, and we're going to continue to do so,” the official said.

The Pentagon is rushing air defence systems to the Middle East to provide security to US and partner forces in the region as Israel expands its war in Gaza.

Jordan has requested Patriot defence systems from the US to counter a new ballistic missile threat, a military spokesman said late on Sunday, as authorities fear a spillover of the Israel-Gaza war.

The Pentagon declined to comment on Jordan's request.

“We are in the process of assessing the location, and where those air defences should go based on requirements and the threat environment,” the US defence official said.

Several thousand US military personnel are currently stationed in the kingdom.

Since the Israel-Gaza war began on October 7, King Abdullah II and Jordanian officials have repeatedly warned that the war could spread to other countries.

Updated: October 30, 2023, 5:59 PM