Iran-backed militia takes credit for attacks on US military, report says

An Iraqi militant group backed by Iran has claimed responsibility for an attack on US forces in southeastern Syria, according to reports.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq reportedly used a pair of drones to attack the al-Tanf garrison near the Jordanian-Iraqi border. The area is often used by Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group, to smuggle weapons across the region, according to Fox News.

US forces were also attacked last week. The Islamic Resistance group reportedly confirmed to The Associated Press that it was behind two attacks on Wednesday and Thursday targeting US forces in Iraq.

The militants issued a statement claiming responsibility and warned that the escalation “harnesses more operations” against the “US occupation”.

“These evil people must leave the country. Otherwise, they will taste hellfire in this world before the afterlife,” the group said in its statement.

The US military confirmed that it was attacked by drones.

“Over the past 24 hours, the U.S. military has defended itself against three drones near U.S. and Coalition forces in Iraq. In western Iraq, U.S. forces attempted two drones, downing one and destroying the second, resulting in slightly injured Coalition forces. Separately in northern Iraq, US forces attacked and destroyed a drone, causing no injuries or damage. We continue to assess the impact on operations,” CENTCOM said in a statement after last week's attack .

Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said the US would take all necessary measures to protect its troops and its coalition with Iraqi allies.

“While I am not going to predict possible responses to these attacks, I will say that we will take all necessary measures to defend US and coalition forces against any threat,” he told reporters during a press briefing.

Although there were some minor injuries, no US officials were killed in any of the attacks.

The al-Tanf military outpost in southern Syria is seen on Oct. 22, 2018. Two U.S. officials told The Associated Press that the al-Tanf outpost, where U.S. troops maintained a presence to train forces as part of a broad campaign against the Islamic State was attacked by drones on Thursday.

(Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

There are currently about 900 US troops in Syria and 2,500 in Iraq.

Iraqi government officials said they would work to root out the militants who attacked the US bases.

Lt. Gen. Yahya Rasoul issued a statement Monday explaining that US forces are in Iraq “at the invitation of the government” to train Iraqi soldiers and help prevent the re-emergence of Islamic State.

It is probably no coincidence that US forces in Syria and Iraq are experiencing increased aggression at a time when Israel and Hamas are engaged in a shooting war.

On Wednesday, militant groups in Iraq backed by Iran said they had set up a “joint operations room” to help Hamas in its fight against Israel, according to Al Jazeera.

Rising tensions and growing aggression have some world leaders worried that the violence in Israel and Gaza will spill over and lead to a wider regional conflict.

“We saw Arab streets filled with rage across the region. Therefore, the risk of a regional spillover exists,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday. “Iran, the patron of Hamas, only wants to fuel the fire of chaos. Russia, Iran's wartime client, is watching closely. Russia and Hamas are the same.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also expressed concerns that the violence could spill over into neighboring states, but warned that claims like Ms von der Leyen's about Iranian involvement could only make matters worse. He called the hints “provocations”.

Iran celebrated the October 7 attack but insists it was not involved in its planning or execution.