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US Troops Attacked in Iraq and Syria as EU Warns of ‘Spillover’ from Israel-Hamas Conflict

Protesters wave Palestinian and Syrian opposition flags as they rally in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in the rebel-held town of Atme in Syria. US troops have been attacked in Iraq and Syria. Photograph: Omar Haj Kadour/AFP/Getty Images

US military installations in Iraq and Syria have become targets for drone attacks, heightening concerns of regional repercussions from the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. The Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq, which houses US and international forces, was hit by drones and missiles, causing multiple explosions within the base. Additionally, rockets struck a military base near Baghdad’s international airport, hosting US forces. There were two separate drone attacks on US military personnel in Iraq, with minor injuries reported in one incident. In Syria, another drone attack resulted in minor injuries to US forces.

The USS Carney, a US Navy destroyer in the northern Red Sea, intercepted three land attack cruise missiles and drones launched by Houthi forces in Yemen. While these missiles were potentially aimed at Israel, the US is still assessing their targets. This marks the first direct military action by the US in support of Israel during the current conflict.

In response to heightened regional tensions, President Joe Biden has deployed naval assets, including two aircraft carriers and about 2,000 Marines, to the Middle East. Washington is on alert for activities involving Iran-backed groups.

Although there is an increase in attacks on US and Israeli forces in the Middle East, the Pentagon does not currently connect these incidents to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed concern about the “real” risk of regional spillover from the Israel-Hamas war, emphasizing the need for continued dialogue between Israel and its neighbors. She noted that Iran, a patron of Hamas, seeks to exacerbate chaos.

The US has approximately 2,500 troops in Iraq and 900 more in neighboring Syria, with a mission to assist local forces in the fight against the Islamic State.

Tensions had already been escalating in Iraq due to the Gaza conflict, with prominent Shi’ite Muslim cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani condemning Israel and calling for global action against the violence in Gaza. Kataib Hezbollah, an influential militia with ties to Iran, accused the US of supporting Israel and called for its withdrawal from Iraq. In recent years, Iranian-backed militias had previously targeted US forces in Iraq. However, such attacks had declined following a truce in place since last year, leading to a period of relative calm in the country.

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