US forces in the Middle East came under attack several times this week, a potential sign of heightened aggression toward the U.S. following Hamas’s attack on southern Israel earlier this month.
Such attacks are typically carried out by Iranian-aligned militia groups, but U.S. military officials didn’t confirm the perpetrators of this week’s attacks.
“These small-scale attacks are clearly concerning and dangerous,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman.
The U.S.’s strong support for Israel, while civilians in Gaza are facing a humanitarian crisis and airstrikes, has prompted widespread anger at the U.S. in the region, and masses of protesters have denounced the U.S. as well as Israel.
A U.S. destroyer operating near Yemen and three military bases in the Middle East came under suspected drone attacks this week.
Nearly two dozen drones swarmed the USS Carney, a guided-missile destroyer, earlier Thursday, defense officials said. The destroyer also intercepted three land-attack cruise missiles near the coast of Yemen in the northern Red Sea where the ship was operating, the Pentagon said. The Pentagon didn’t say what Carney used to shoot down the drones or to intercept the missiles, except to say it happened over water.
“We cannot say for certain what these missiles and drones were targeting, but they were launched from Yemen heading north along the Red Sea, potentially toward targets in Israel,” Ryder told reporters Thursday during a briefing.
U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria came under attack a number of times this week.
Two drones attacked the al-Tanf base near the Jordanian and Iraqi borders Wednesday, causing minor injuries, defense officials said. One drone was shot down and destroyed, and another hit the base, causing what U.S. military officials described as “minor injuries.”
Drones attacked al-Asad Airbase in western Iraq, causing minor injuries to a number of troops, according to U.S. military officials. A contractor based in al-Assad experienced a cardiac event while trying to take shelter and later died, the officials said.
A separate attack against U.S. and coalition forces at al Harir base in northern Iraq resulted in no injuries or damage, officials said.
Earlier, a pro-Palestinian militant group said it had carried out attacks on U.S. bases in Syria. The Pentagon declined to link the attacks, saying it was looking at them “individually,” Ryder said.
There are roughly 2,500 U.S. troops in Iraq and another 900 in Syria.
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