United States-led coalition forces have started live-fire exercises at military bases in Iraq and Syria, after more than a dozen attacks on American troops over the last week left more than 20 soldiers injured.
The Combined Joint Task Force — Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) said on Wednesday that ground operational exercises to validate weapons systems and maintain crew proficiency and readiness would happen in or near the al-Hasakah region in Syria and the Khalidiyah region in Iraq.
“On Oct. 25, 2023, Coalition service members will be conducting ground operational exercises in or near the al-Hasakah region in Syria to validate weapons systems and maintain crew proficiency and readiness,” a notice from CJTF-OIR said. A separate but similar notice coalition forces will conduct “base defense and ground operational exercises in or near the Khalidiyah region in Iraq to validate weapons systems and maintain crew proficiency and readiness.”
The exercises come as U.S. troops positioned in the Middle East have been attacked 14 times — 11 times in Iraq and three times in Syria — between Oct. 17-24. The attacks include a mix of one-way drones and rockets, resulting in 24 people getting injured, according to Pentagon officials.
Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, U.S. Department of Defense spokesman Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder confirmed the 14 attacks as the region surrounding Israel and its war with Hamas in Gaza has started to overflow into the surrounding region.
Ryder also confirmed U.S. officials were helping Israeli officials with their planning ahead of an expected ground invasion into the Gaza Strip, including advice on mitigating civilian casualties.
The latest attack came Tuesday in Iraq, when Iran proxy forces fired a rocket at al-Asad air base, two U.S. defense officials said. The rocket was intercepted and no injuries, casualties or damages to the base were reported.