The Pentagon on Tuesday said there were nearly 60 American troops injured by attacks conducted by Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria in the last month.
“Since October 17th through today, we are tracking that there have been 55 attacks on U.S. forces. There have been 27 attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq and 28 attacks in Syria,” said Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh during a Pentagon briefing.
“We are also tracking 59 U.S. personnel who have received injuries in the [traumatic brain injury] or non-serious categories since these attacks began. Approximately 27 personnel have been evaluated for TBI and 32 for other non-serious injuries. As of today, all 59 have returned to duty,” she said.
The sudden ramp up of attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria began after Hamas’s terrorist attack against U.S. ally Israel on October 7, which killed more than 1,400.
The Pentagon said on Thursday that six U.S. troops in Syria suffered traumatic brain injuries after an attack on their positions last week by Iran-backed militias. https://t.co/q3Y2lDBfdj— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) April 1, 2023
In response, the U.S. has struck weapons and ammunition storage facilities in Syria allegedly linked to the attacks, but have not confirmed any casualties in those strikes.
The Pentagon insists the strikes against U.S. troops are “separate” from the war between Israel and Hamas, despite Hamas also being backed and funded by Iran and despite the Pentagon previously acknowledging that Iran-backed groups had threatened to escalate attack U.S. troops if Israel conducted a ground offensive into Gaza.
Singh said U.S. troops were being attacked because Iran did not want them in the region, and not because the Israel-Hamas war has spilled over into other countries.
“We are in Syria and Iraq for our mission to defeat ISIS. We have seen Iran and Iran proxy groups continue to attack U.S. forces because we know Iran doesn’t want us there, we know Iran does not want to see U.S. forces on the ground, and in the region, frankly. And so we saw this back in March, we’ve seen this before, where they attack our forces,” she said.
However, Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder had previously said on October 23:
I think we are concerned about escalation based on, you know, you’ve seen several groups throughout the region publicly say, ‘Hey, you know, if there is a ground incursion, we are going to scale up our attacks.’
On whether Iran was getting the message to stop using proxy-forces to attack U.S. troops, Singh said, “I think we are being very deliberate on how we — and when we conduct our — our strikes against these groups. And I think that Iran is certainly seeing that message.”
“We’ve taken action, we’ve hit weapons storage facilities. And it’s important to remember the facilities that we hit are now destroyed. These groups cannot go back to these facilities and take weapons out because they’re gone. So we feel that we are being very precise with our targeting and ensuring that we can inflict the most damage to the — these groups and their — their capabilities,” she added.
When asked specifically why she kept saying the Israel-Hamas war had not expanded outside of Israel when U.S. troops were getting attacked in Iraq and Syria, Singh argued, ”
“The brutal terrorist attack that happened in Israel was on October 7th. These attacks started happening on October 17th. Again, we have not seen the conflict that is happening within Israel, within Gaza expand out to the region,” she said.