US Military Bases Attacked 127 Times In Iraq, Syria Since October; Attacks Intensified After Israel-Hamas War

With increasing volatility in the Middle East, recent reports indicate that United States military bases in the region have been attacked 127 times since mid-October by regional militants.

US Department of Defense Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder reportedly announced recently that since October 17, 2023, there have been 127 attacks against US military sites in Syria and Iraq. Out of these, at least nine have been reported since January 4.

According to Ryder, there were 52 attacks against US locations in Iraq over the stated period, and there were 75 strikes on Syrian military installations. The US has maintained an extensive and long-term military presence in the region, with infrequent instances of hostilities.

Since Israel declared war against Gaza-based Hamas a month after the latter’s unprecedented attack on Israeli territory on October 7, US bases have widely been targeted by regional militant groups that pledge solidarity with the Palestinians.

In the 96-day-long bombing campaign undertaken by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), more than 23,000 people in Gaza have been killed, according to the Hamas-controlled health department inside the enclave.

The recent announcement by Ryder comes after regional armed groups warned in a statement posted over the Telegram messenger that they were planning to expand their attacks against US bases in Syria and Iraq owing to continuous US support to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and its military operations in the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon.

Since the Israeli government started its campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Iraqi rebel organizations have carried out attacks against US forces in both adjacent Syria and Iraq.

Following the killing of rebel leaders who spearheaded the war against terrorism in both Iraq and Syria, the Iraqi parliament passed a bill demanding the US withdraw its soldiers from the nation—a demand that the US military has not yet complied with.

In Syria, US troops have attributed frequent attacks to Iran-based militant groups. For instance, earlier this week, missiles and kamikaze drones attacked US military installations in the Syrian provinces of Hasakah and Deir ez-Zor. However, air defense systems at the bases destroyed the drones and rockets before they reached their targets.

The Syrian administration of Bashar al-Assad and militias backed by Iran dominate the city center and adjacent rural regions of Deir ez-Zor. At the same time, the US-supported Kurdish group PKK/YPG occupies the town.

As IDF continues its offensive against Hamas inside the Gaza Strip, violent episodes between the United States and Iran-backed militias elsewhere in the region have escalated. The US has offered unconditional military and political support to Israel, even going to the extent of vetoing the ceasefire. 

Experts have regularly highlighted that these incidents and recurring attacks have the potential to spiral an Israel-Hamas battle into an even bloodier regional struggle. A US strike in Baghdad last week killed a militant group commander with ties to Iran, with the latter vowing retaliation.

In addition to the US military bases, several commercial vessels belonging to the West have come under attack by the Iran-supplied Houthi militias that are based in Yemen. The attacks have triggered an anti-Houthi international alliance in the region, with the US and its partners sending warships to guard against piracy and prevent global trade from spiraling.

The Western warships belonging to the US and UK just repelled what is being touted as the “biggest ever” attack by the Houthis.

UK Warships Thwart Houthi’s Biggest Attack

The Middle East was on the edge on January 10 as British and US military thwarted “the largest attack” yet by Houthis, headquartered in Yemen, in the Red Sea. 

The US military’s Central Command said in a statement that rebels backed by Iran fired 21 drones and missiles targeting international trade channels. Rockets were aimed at HMS Diamond, a Royal Navy ship that the UK had sent out to defend commercial and shipping boats.

US Army
File Image: US Soldiers

In a statement on X, the defense secretary, Grant Shapps, claimed that “lethal” Sea Viper missiles had been launched to protect the warship and drive back the Houthis.

In an elaborate statement, he noted that HMS Diamond, along with US warships, successfully repelled the most significant overnight attack from the Iranian-backed Houthis in the Red Sea to date.

“Deploying Sea Viper missiles and guns, Diamond destroyed multiple attack drones heading for her and commercial shipping in the area, with no injuries or damage sustained to Diamond or her crew.”

The Houthis, who are fighting Yemen’s internationally recognized government in a civil war, have increased their attacks on ships in the area in recent weeks. They contend that it is retaliation against Israel for its military operation in the Gaza Strip, which is under siege.

They refrained from making an official announcement right once admitting to initiating the strikes on the ships. The Al Jazeera news network cited an unnamed Houthi military officer as saying that their forces “targeted a ship linked to Israel in the Red Sea.