Since the middle of last month, U.S. troops at al Asad Air Base in Iraq have come under attack 20 times, and troops at al Tanf garrison in Syria have come under attack another 18 times, Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen.
Patrick Ryder said on Monday. The number of attacks increased over the weekend, demonstrating the continued threat facing U.S. forces.
Ryder also noted that about 45 U.S. troops reported being injured in attacks on Oct. 17 and 18, which represents a sizable increase from the 21 service members the department initially said sustained injuries.
At al Tanf, five troops recently came forward with traumatic brain injuries (known in the military as TBIs), and 10 others reported minor injuries.
Nine troops at al Asad Air Base reported additional minor injuries days later, and one person was injured at Erbil Air Base in Iraq on Oct. 26.
Two service members who were injured initially returned to duty only to be taken later to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, the largest American military hospital outside the United States, for additional care. Both of them are in stable condition.
All of the injuries were incurred prior to the U.S.’s retaliatory strikes in eastern Syria on Oct. 26, according to Ryder.
The U.S. believes Iran is responsible for the attacks, and the military struck two facilities in Syria associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in response.
One of the strikes targeted a “weapons storage area,” while the other targeted “an ammunition storage area,” according to a senior military official.
“Let’s be clear: Iran is responsible,” the official said. “I want to emphasize that the United States does not seek conflict, nor do we desire further hostilities; however, the Iran-backed attacks against U.S. forces are unacceptable and must cease.
We are prepared to take further measures to protect our people if necessary.”
U.S. officials have warned Iran against attacking U.S. troops in the region and to stay out of Israel’s war with Hamas, a group that Iran has historically backed.