The United States will deploy 300 additional troops to the Middle East following several new attacks on U.S. and Coalition forces in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon has announced.
The forces will deploy to undisclosed locations in the Middle East outside of Israel, Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters on Oct. 31.
The move follows the deployment of 900 troops to the region last week.
While many of the troops sent last week were operating in air defense elements, the 300 now deploying will primarily focus on support tasks including communications and explosive ordnance disposal, Gen. Ryder said.
The troops are intended to help the United States prevent the Israel-Hamas War from expanding into a regional conflict, as well as to prevent further attacks on U.S. service members.
“They are intended to support regional deterrence efforts and further bolster U.S. force protection capabilities,” Gen. Ryder said.
New Attacks by Iran-Backed Groups
Gen. Ryder said that there were 27 attacks on U.S. troops by Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria throughout October.
“Right now, we’re tracking a total of 27 attacks,” Gen. Ryder said. “16 in Iraq, 11 in Syria.”
The Pentagon has frequently claimed that the attacks are a separate issue from the ongoing Israel-Hamas War in Gaza, but Iran and the other groups involved have stated that they will increase their attacks on U.S. troops should Israel pursue a full-fledged invasion of Gaza.
“I think it’s important to differentiate what Iranian proxies and Iran might be saying and the perspective that we bring to this,” Gen. Ryder said. “Our forces are in Iraq and Syria for one purpose, which is the enduring defeat of ISIS.”
“This is separate and distinct from the situation in Israel, between Israel and Hamas.”
The attacks in Iraq and Syria have resulted in wounds to at least 21 American service members, including 19 who were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries. All have since returned to duty.
In addition to the growing number of rocket and drone attacks on U.S. and Coalition bases, several medium-range cruise missiles were launched by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The USS Carney shot down four such missiles in the Red Sea on Oct. 19.
Pentagon leadership said that the missiles were headed north, possibly towards Israel, but that they were shot down because they were deemed a threat to the vessel.
“We cannot say for certain what these missiles and drones were targeting, but they were launched from Yemen heading north along the Red Sea, potentially toward targets in Israel,” Gen. Ryder said at the time.
The United States launched two retaliatory strikes over the weekend on facilities in Syria associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the United States designates as a terror organization.
The escalating conflict follows an unprecedented attack on Israel on Oct. 7, when Islamist terrorists murdered more than 1,400 Israelis, abducted women and children, and engaged in acts of torture.
Experts have warned that the Hamas terrorist organization, which receives funding and training from Iran, seeks to unleash an international conflict that will encourage more violence against Israel and the United States.
The Biden administration has said that it retains the right to retaliate against Iran at a time and in a manner of its own choosing.
“We know that these groups are funded, trained, and sponsored by the Iranian government,” Gen. Ryder said. “And we hold the Iranian government responsible.”