According to Pentagon, there have been at least 31 attacks on U.S. installations in Iraq and Syria, with at least 21 troops injured over the past two weeks.
In October, the Pentagon confirmed that U.S. personnel discovered a drone laden with explosives on the upper floors of their barracks in Iraq. Fortunately, the explosives failed to detonate.
The Pentagon suspects that these recent attacks are a response by Iranian-backed militants to the support of the U.S. for Israel. "They are aiming to kill. We have just been lucky," a U.S. defense official said.
As a response to the attacks, the U.S. launched strikes on two bases in eastern Syria. The U.S. believes that Iranian-backed militants used these bases against them, so they described the attack as self-defense against Iraq and Syria. Moreover, the Pentagon deployed several air-defense systems to the region in October to protect approximately 2,500 U.S. troops in Iraq and 900 in Syria.
On Nov. 5, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken made an unannounced visit to Baghdad to address the escalating Israel-Hamas conflict and send a message to Iran and its allies.
"I've been very clear that attacks and threats coming from militia are totally unacceptable. We will take every necessary step to protect our people. We're not looking for conflict with Iran. We've made that very clear, but we'll do what's necessary to protect our personnel," Blinken said.
Similarly, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin warned Iran and its allies against any further escalation in the Israel-Hamas conflict. (Related: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken warn Iran and its allies against escalating Israel-Hamas war.)
In an interview with ABC News, Austin revealed that the Pentagon had increased its military readiness in response to the recent rocket and drone strikes on U.S. military bases in Iraq and Syria. "What we're seeing is the prospect of a significant escalation of attacks on our troops and our people throughout the region," Austin stated.
The threats stemmed from armed factions in Iraq, closely aligned with Iran, which vowed to target U.S. interests following Washington's declaration of support for Israel in the ongoing conflict. Austin also stressed the commitment of the U.S. to self-defense and its readiness to take necessary action.
"If any group or any country is looking to widen this conflict and take advantage of this very unfortunate situation that we see, our advice is: don't," Austin warned.
Blinken echoed Austin's sentiments in a separate interview with CBS News. "We are taking steps to make sure that we can effectively defend our people and respond decisively if we need to," Blinken said.
However, Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, former commander of U.S. Central Command, noted that Iran is supplying more accurate weapons to its proxies. "Sooner or later, the bad guys get lucky," he warned.
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Watch this clip of Sen. Lindsey Graham threatening to "blow up" Iranian oil supplies if Tehran is drawn into the conflict with Israel.