By Dave DeCamp / Antiwar.com
A Pentagon official told reporters on Monday that the military is preparing for a “significant escalation” of attacks on US troops stationed in the Middle East due to President Biden’s support for Israel’s onslaught in Gaza.
The comments came the same day US Central Command said its forces downed two drones that were fired at a base in Syria. Starting last week, there have been a series of attacks on bases housing US troops in Iraq and Syria.
“They’ve been under an increase of attacks for the really for the last three days or so at various locations,” said a senior Pentagon official, who was not authorized to speak on the record, according to Military Times.
A group that calls itself the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed it launched drones at US forces in Syria on Monday, but the US has not attributed blame. The Pentagon official pointed the finger at Iran due to Tehran’s support for Shia militias that operate in Syria and Iraq, although there’s no indication Iran is directly involved.
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“We see a prospect for much more significant escalation against US forces and personnel in the near term,” the official said. “And let’s be clear about it: the road leads back to Iran. Iran funded, armed, equipped and trained militias and proxy forces all across the region.”
Separately, Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said there was no sign Iran is ordering the attacks, but said the US still blames Iran. “We don’t necessarily see that Iran has explicitly ordered them to take these kinds of attacks,” he said. “That said, by virtue of the fact that they are supported by Iran, we will ultimately hold Iran responsible.”
A regional escalation is expected once Israel launches its ground invasion of Gaza. The US has deployed military assets to the region to “deter” Hezbollah or other actors from joining, with the implication that the US will directly intervene if they do. US officials are threatening to respond to the attacks in Iraq and Syria, and President Biden has previously bombed Shia militias in the two countries over similar attacks.
Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.