The U.S. has revealed that nearly two dozen military personnel were wounded during recent drone attacks that occurred at American bases in Syria and Iraq.
The attacks, which the Pentagon disclosed last week, occurred at al-Asad Air Base in western Iraq on October 17 and at al-Tanf military base in Syria the following day.
“In the last 24 hours, the U.S. military defended against three drones near U.S. and Coalition forces in Iraq,” read a statement issued by U.S. Central Command last week.
“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.”
“In this moment of heightened alert, we are vigilantly monitoring the situation in Iraq and the region,” the CENTCOM statement read. “We want to emphasize U.S. forces will defend U.S. and Coalition forces against any threat.”
Speaking with reporters late last week, Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder confirmed the number of drones that U.S forces had eliminated, stating that the October 18 incident at al Tanf garrison involved two drones, one of which was shot down while the other impacted the base, “resulting in minor injuries to Coalition Forces.”
The same morning, a separate incident in Iraq involving three drones resulted in one being shot down while military personnel on site sheltered in place. Although there were no casualties, one civilian contractor suffered a cardiac arrest while sheltering and died shortly afterward.
Ryder also discussed the previous incidents that occurred in Iraq on October 17, where U.S. Military Forces dispatched two of the three drones they encountered that day.
“In western Iraq at Al Asad Air Base, U.S. Forces engaged two drones destroying one and damaging the second resulting in minor injuries to Coalition Forces,” Ryder said.
“Separately in northern Iraq, U.S. Forces engaged and destroyed a drone near Bashur Air Base resulting in no injuries or damage.”
It was also revealed last week that several more drones and three land-attack cruise missiles launched by Houthi forces in Yemen were also shot down by U.S. military personnel aboard the Guided Missile Destroyer USS Carney while operating in the Northern Red Sea on October 19.
Ryder refrained from speculating about potential U.S. responses to the drone attacks but advised that the U.S. “will take all necessary actions to defend U.S. and Coalition Forces against any threat.”
“Any response should one occur will come at a time in a manner of our choosing,” Ryder said.
Following the attacks last week, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with several leaders of Middle Eastern countries, in addition to reiterating to Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Galant that the U.S. supports “Israel’s right to defend itself from terrorist attacks, and also underscored the importance of safeguarding innocent civilians both Palestinian and Israeli.”
“It is our aim to avoid any regional expansion of Israel’s conflict with Hamas,” Ryder said at the Pentagon last week.
“But we stand ready and prepared to protect and defend our partners and our interests,” Ryder added.