The surge in rocket and drone strikes on US forces in Syria and Iraq is causing conflict within the Pentagon with many officials growing frustrated over what they believe is the Biden administration’s incoherent strategy to counter the Iranian-backed militias believed to be responsible, the Washington Post reported.
Pentagon officials acknowledge that the limited retaliatory strikes approved by the president have done nothing to stop the attacks.
Since October 17, there have been more than 60 strikes on US troops in Syria and Iraq from one-way drones and rockets, leading to over 50 injuries.
One Pentagon official told the Washington Post that there has been “no clear definition” of what the administration is attempting to deter. If the goal of the limited retaliatory strikes has been to deter future attacks by Iranian proxies, “that’s clearly not working,” the official said.
Pentagon officials said the Biden administration has been concerned that any overreaction on the part of the United States could incite a wider conflict in the Middle East. Along with the limited retaliatory strikes, administration officials have been repeatedly urging Tehran to rein in its proxies in the region, warning that the US would have to right to respond at any time or place. However, those warnings have so far fallen on deaf ears.
According to Pentagon data obtained by the Post, the over 60 attacks thus far have targeted ten bases in Iraq and Syria that are used by US personnel.
In response to the more than 60 attacks, President Biden has authorized only three separate retaliatory strikes in eastern Syria, most recently on November 12 when the US launched strikes on targets used by “Iran-affiliated groups” and Iran’s IRGC. According to a Pentagon official, up to seven militants were killed in the November 12 strikes.
The retaliatory strikes have targeted warehouses storing weapons and ammunition, as well as a training facility and a command post. However, none of the retaliatory strikes have slowed the surge in attacks on US personnel in the region, which resume almost immediately after each strike.