In the wake of Israel’s attacks on Hamas, U.S. forces in the Middle East have endured several attacks as violent protests decrying Israel ensue throughout the region.
Israel is carrying out a sweeping counteroffensive in the Gaza Strip after Hamas killed over 1,400 Israelis and kidnapped over 100 civilians, including children, during mass terrorist attacks that began on Oct. 7. Protests and violence have flared up in surrounding Middle Eastern nations – despite the Biden administration claiming days before the Hamas attack that the region is “quieter” than it has been in decades.
Mass protests are taking place in Arab nations surrounding Israel, including Libya, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, the latter of which houses the Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah. U.S. military forces in regions including Syria, Iraq and the Red Sea have recorded rocket and/or drone attacks from a number of groups, including Islamic Resistance and Houthi forces.
Several of the groups involved in the attacks against U.S. forces are supported and backed by Iran. While Tehran’s role in helping plan the initial Oct. 7 attacks against Israel by Hamas is disputed, it heavily supports the terrorist organization.
“Tehran is bringing various elements of its proxy network online and in place to bail out Hamas, distract Israel, and deter the U.S. from standing with Israel,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, senior researcher on Iranian security and political issues at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The more Tehran greenlights the involvement of its proxies, the more it is attempting to create a new security architecture in the region to keep America out and Israel bogged down.”
To the northeast, Iranian-backed militants fired rockets at the Ain al-Asad air base hosting Americans in Iraq on Thursday, and a search and rescue operation was subsequently launched by the Iraqi military; it is not immediately clear if casualties or injuries were sustained during the attacks. Another base was attacked via rocket fire near the international airport in Baghdad on the same day.
The al-Asad base came under attack earlier in the week after U.S. troops staved off incoming kamikaze drones on Tuesday. In Syria, two U.S. military sites housing American and allied troops fell under attack from drones on Thursday; incoming drones were shot down by personnel at the al-Tanf coalition garrison, with one servicemember sustaining injuries. Militants also fired rockets at the Conoco base in the Deir al-Zor region of Syria after it fell under siege from the Islamic Resistance in Iraq on Thursday.
A U.S. naval destroyer operating in the Red Sea shot down an incoming hive of drones and cruise missiles launched by Houthi terrorist forces in Yemen on Thursday, the AP reported. The drones were “potentially” headed for Israel, according to Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder.
“These small-scale attacks are clearly concerning and dangerous,” Ryder said on Wednesday. “We’re going to do everything necessary to ensure that we’re protecting our forces. And if and when we choose to respond, we’ll do so at a time of our choosing.”
Hezbollah has warned the U.S. against increasing its support of Israel, and has launched several small-scale attacks over its southern border, including missile attacks and gunfire toward IDF, according to Fox News. IDF has increased its presence at the border with troops and tanks as tensions with Hezbollah rapidly escalate, according to The Associated Press.
Hezbollah warned Israel on Wednesday it is “thousands of times stronger” than it was before, according to Reuters; the Iranian-backed terrorist group consists of approximately 100,000 fighters, leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah claimed. It also has a stockpile of weaponry and boasts precision-guided missiles that could hit any target in Israel.
After it was reported without evidence that Israel bombed a hospital in Gaza, Hezbollah called for a “day of unprecedented anger” and violent protests ensued near the U.S. embassy in Lebanon starting Wednesday. Security forces fired tear gas and water cannons into crowds of protestors who broke through barbed wire and fencing leading to the embassy, according to Reuters.
Mass Palestinian protests are occurring in several Arab nations surrounding Israel, including Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Turkey and Jordan, according to the Associated Press. The State Department issued a “Worldwide Caution Security Alert” to U.S. citizens traveling overseas on Thursday amid the risk of further terrorist attacks and violence.
Demonstrations also took place in Iran, where protestors can be seen burning the Israeli flag and chanting “death to Israel,” NBC News reported on Tuesday. All of the unfolding chaos, from attacks against U.S. forces to the ongoing protests against Israel, can be traced back to Tehran, according to Shoshana Bryen, senior director of the Jewish Policy Center.
“Iran is the center of the conflict. The religious leadership believes it is destined to control Islam, and then the rest of the world. They’re not ‘crazy,’ they’re believers,” Bryen told the DCNF. “Without an international determination to thwart Iran’s goals, the region will not see peace regardless of the outcome of Israel’s present war in Gaza.”
Bryen said that when the war between Israel and Hamas concludes, the chaos will reflect poorly on the Biden administration, which has been accused by lawmakers and foreign policy experts of taking a concessionary stance toward Iran.
“When the history of the current horror in Israel is written, it will be clear that the administration’s oil sanctions waivers, unfreezing assets, ignoring Iranian arms sales to Russia, and ignoring the suffering of the Iranian people under the mullahs gave Tehran the sense that it was driving events,” Bryen told the DCNF. “And Hamas had the same sense in Gaza.”
The Biden administration said on Oct. 7 – two days before the brutal Hamas terrorist attacks – that the Middle East is “quieter today than it has been in two decades.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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