Thursday, May 23, 2024

After a Lull, U.S. Troops in Iraq and Syria Are Attacked Twice in 24 Hours

HomeWARAfter a Lull, U.S. Troops in Iraq and Syria Are Attacked Twice...

America’s military forces found themselves squarely in the crosshairs again over the weekend, enduring not one but two brazen attacks in under 24 hours across Iraq and Syria. The harrowing strikes shattered a months-long stretch of relative calm in the volatile region.

The first salvo came on Sunday, when five rockets rained down from northern Iraq on a U.S. base in the remote northeastern Syrian outpost of Rumalyn. While the barrage failed to inflict any casualties, it served as an ominous harbinger of the violence yet to come.

Then on Monday, the Ain al-Asad air base hosting U.S. troops in Iraq’s western Anbar province found itself squarely in the militants’ sights. At least one explosive-laden drone bore down on the installation in a daring airborne assault before meeting its unspecified demise. Miraculously, the drone strike too failed to exact a human toll or cause significant damage.

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The sudden uptick in hostilities followed a massive blast just one day earlier at an Iraqi military facility occupied by Iranian-backed militias. That earth-shaking detonation left one fighter dead, with the militant group’s commander defiantly labeling it an attack despite the Iraqi army’s denials of an airstrike.

The U.S. military was likewise quick to rebuff any claims of involvement in that deadly incident, which remains shrouded in mystery.

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The flurry of strikes over the weekend rudely interrupted what had been a nearly three-month cessation of the relentless rocket and drone attacks that had tormented U.S. forces last fall. An Iranian proxy group called the Islamic Resistance in Iraq had enthusiastically claimed credit for that earlier barrage, citing American support for Israel’s Gaza campaign as the casus belli.

That cycle of tit-for-tat violence had escalated rapidly, culminating in U.S. retaliatory airstrikes on Iraqi soil following a deadly drone hit that killed three American soldiers along the Iraqi-Jordanian border. Only concerted pressure from both Iraqi and Iranian officials finally cooled tensions.

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Now, mere days after Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani’s conciliatory visit to Washington in hopes of a U.S.-Iraqi rapprochement, the region appears poised to slide back into chaos. The renewed hostilities cast a pall over President Joe Biden’s efforts to stabilize relations.

With around 2,500 troops in Iraq and 900 more across the border in eastern Syria, the U.S. military maintains a substantial footprint in the region 20 years after first invading to topple Saddam Hussein. Only time will tell if this was a momentary flare-up or the leading edge of a new, sustained campaign against American forces.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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