US troops based in Syria have come under attack at least four times since the latest US airstrikes in eastern Syria were launched on Sunday, Task & Purpose reported on Monday.
The Pentagon announced Sunday that it launched strikes against facilities “used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran-affiliated groups” in eastern Syria’s Deir Ezzor province. It marked the third round of US airstrikes since US troops in Iraq and Syria have come under a spate of attacks in response to President Biden’s backing of Israel’s war in Gaza.
A Pentagon official told Task & Purpose that US forces in Syria came under attack three times on Sunday after the US airstrikes and one time on Monday. The White House has said one purpose of its airstrikes is to “deter” further attacks on US troops, but it’s clear the strategy has failed.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it recorded six attacks on US forces on Monday alone, but the report is not confirmed. The four incidents confirmed by the US official brings the total number of attacks on US bases in Iraq and Syria since October 17 to 52. The Pentagon has said at least 56 US troops have been wounded.
An umbrella group of Shia militias known as the Islamic Resistance of Iraq has taken credit for most attacks on US forces. Militia leaders have said they won’t back down unless Israel’s onslaught on Gaza comes to an end. Iran supports the Shia militias that operate in the region but denies any role in the attacks on US forces.
The US has about 2,500 troops in Iraq and 900 in Syria, where it backs the Kurdish-led SDF. The occupation of eastern Syria is opposed by the government in Damascus, and the continued US military presence in Iraq is opposed by many elements in Iraqi politics.
Many observers have pointed out that with a crisis like the Gaza war, US troops occupying Syria are vulnerable as prime targets for Iran-aligned militias in the region…
The #US illegal base in al-Omar oil field in #Syria’s Deir Ezzor was targeted by a rocket or drone attack.💥💥
No matter how hard the US try, the attacks will continue until the complete cessation of hostilities and atrocities against the Palestinians in Gaza!! pic.twitter.com/H0ApqhyqWE
— IWN (@A7_Mirza) November 13, 2023
After the US launched a drone strike in January 2020 that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad, Iraq’s parliament voted to expel US troops, but the US refused to leave. In an effort to placate anti-US factions, the US formally changed its presence in Iraq from a combat role to an advisory role in December 2021 but did not withdraw any troops.