Source: The Telegraph
Oct 24, 2023
Fears Iran-backed groups are escalating attacks on US forces
The concerns follow a series of drone attacks on American troops in the region
The United States believes that Iranian-backed militias are planning to step up assaults against American forces in the Middle East in the wake of Hamas’s terror attacks in Israel.
Following a series of drone attacks against troops in the region, US officials believe that Iranian-backed groups are planning further action in the wider Middle East, including in Syria.
A US official told CNN there were “red lights flashing everywhere” and that while there is no evidence that Iran itself is ordering attacks against US forces, the regime may be encouraging them.
On Monday, Brig Gen Patrick Ryder, the Department of Defense’s press secretary, said that US defensive systems had countered two suicide drones at al-Tanf base on the Syrian-Iraqi border.
“I can confirm that there was an attempted drone attack at al-Tanf in Syria. Two one-way attack drones taken down; no injuries to US forces,” he said.
Brig Gen Ryder said that there had been an “uptick in drone and rocket attacks” on US forces in recent days by “Iran-backed” fighters, but did not say which specific groups the US believes was responsible for Monday’s incident.
“We know that these groups are groups that are backed by Iran,” he said. “We don’t necessarily see that Iran has explicitly ordered them to take these kinds of attacks.
“That said, by virtue of the fact that they are supported by Iran, we will ultimately hold Iran responsible.”
John Kirby, the US National Security Council spokesman, said that there was a “very direct connection” between the groups attacking US troops and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – a branch of the Iranian military.
Mr Kirby said that the US is “deeply concerned about the potential of any significant escalation of these attacks in the days ahead”.
US intelligence officials believe that while Iran supports the groups, it does not order specific attacks in an attempt to keep itself distanced.
“Iran’s goal is to maintain some plausible deniability here, but we are not going to allow them to do that,” Mr Kirby said.
Iran has also been accused of orchestrating the Hamas attacks on Israel earlier this month.
The Wall Street Journal reported that IRGC officials had met with Hamas terrorists in advance of the group’s attack, alongside members of Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Islamist terror group.