Iran-backed militia claim responsibility for attacks on US military in Iraq and Syria, 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 and Iraqi borders. The region is frequently used by Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant organisation, to traffick weapons throughout the region, according to Fox News.

US forces were attacked last week as well. The Islamic Resistance reportedly confirmed to the Associated Press that it was behind a pair of attacks on Wednesday and Thursday targeting US forces in Iraq.

The militants issued a statement claiming responsibility and warned that the escalation "heralds more operations" against the "American occupation."

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

The US military confirmed that it has suffered an attack from drones.

"In the last 24 hours, the U.S. military defended against three drones near U.S. and Coalition forces in Iraq. In western Iraq, U.S. forces engaged two drones, destroying one and damaging the second, resulting in minor injuries to Coalition forces. Separately in northern Iraq, U.S. forces engaged and destroyed a drone, resulting in no injuries or damage. We are continuing to assess the impacts to operations," CENTCOM said in a statement after last week's attack.

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

“While I’m not going to forecast any potential responses to these attacks, I will say that we will take all necessary actions to defend US and coalition forces against any threat,” he told reporters during a press briefing.

Though there have been some minor injuries, no US officials have been 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 garrison, where U.S. troops have maintained a presence to train forces as part of a broad campaign against the Islamic State group, was attacked by drones on Thursday, (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

There are currently approximately 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.

Major General Yahya Rasoul issued a statement on Monday explaining that US forces were in Iraq "at the invitation of the government" to train Iraqi soldiers and to help prevent the re-emergence of the Islamic State.

It's likely not a 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, Iranian-backed militant groups in Iraq said they had formed a "joint operations room" to assist Hamas in its fight against Israel, according to Al Jazeera.

The rising tensions and increased aggression have some world leaders worried that the violence in Israel and Gaza will spill out and result in a broader regional conflict.

“We have seen the Arab streets fill with rage all across the region. So the risk of a regional spillover is real,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday. “Iran, Hamas’s patron, only wants to fuel the fire of chaos. Russia, Iran’s wartime customer, is watching carefully. Russia and Hamas are alike."

Russia's Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov also expressed concerns that the violence could overflow into neighbouring states, but warned that allegations like Ms von der Leyen's about Iran's involvement may only serve to make matters worse. He called the insinuations "provocations."

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