Drone strike on US forces shows how service members in the Middle East face increasingly deadly attacks

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WASHINGTON — The attack that killed three U.S. soldiers and wounded 25 others Sunday at a base in the Middle East came from a one-way attack drone and represents the latest in an increasingly deadly barrage targeting bases with U.S. forces in the region.

Iran-backed militias have launched more than 150 attacks since October 17 on bases occupied by US forces in Iraq and Syria, according to the Pentagon. The majority of attacks using missiles and attack drones were unidirectional, and most were intercepted.

President Joe Biden In a statement on Sunday He said that “the nation’s heart is sad” after the deadly attack, pledging “to hold all those responsible for it accountable at the time and in the manner we choose.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also vowed revenge in a statement.

“Iranian-backed militias are responsible for these ongoing attacks on American forces, and we will respond at a time and place of our choosing,” Austin said.

But for months, concern was a stroke of luck on the part of the region’s militants, according to American officials who were not authorized to speak publicly. Such an attack is referred to as a “golden BB,” and would bypass the layers of defenses that protect bases from incoming attacks.

In recent weeks, the attacks have become more complex and dangerous. On January 20, militants fired ballistic missiles at Ain al-Asad air base in western Iraq. These missiles, which carry a heavier explosive charge than missiles, caused brain injuries to four American soldiers. They later returned to service.

The Pentagon responded with airstrikes targeting members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the Iranian government entity that trains and equips militant groups throughout the Middle East, according to a US official.

Attacks on US forces in Iraq and Syria, and the ongoing targeting of commercial shipping in the Red Sea by Houthi militants, appear to have a common thread of support from Iran.

Javed Ali, a former senior US counterterrorism and intelligence official, said the latest provocation by proxy forces was likely to have repercussions.

“My feeling is that things are going to escalate dramatically soon,” said Ali, who previously held positions at the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

Ali told USA TODAY that the latest attack “represents the crossing of a major threshold in the already high level of violence against US military personnel in the region.”

While the Biden administration continues to publicly state that it does not seek war in the Middle East with Iranian-backed groups in the region or with Iran itself, Sunday’s attack “will likely be met with a strong and deadly response in the region.” “It remains to be seen how these Iranian or Iran-backed groups will retaliate, but the pace of current attacks is likely to continue or escalate,” Ali said.

A handful of Republican lawmakers quickly criticized the Biden administration’s response to Iran after the latest attack. Senator Lindsey Graham, RSC. She described the country as “undeterred” He urged the Biden administration to “hit Iran now. Hit it hard.”

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mo., the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, on Sunday Biden also called Share on X, previously Twitter “It is time to act quickly and decisively for the whole world to see.”

But even before the latest attack, some members of Congress expressed concerns about US military operations in the region, and the potential for a more direct and intense confrontation with Iran.

Last week, a bipartisan group of US senators sent a letter to the White House raising concerns about the potential activation of the War Powers Act of 1973 if US operations continue against the Yemen-based Houthis, another Iranian proxy group that has escalated its hostilities against the United States. United States and Iran. Coalition forces.

Biden admitted in statements last week that the almost daily barrage of US attacks on Houthi targets had not been very successful. But he said they are likely to continue.

The Senate letter, sent to the White House on Tuesday, warned Biden that he would need congressional approval to continue such attacks, especially if they risk drawing the United States deeper into an escalating war in the Middle East.

“While the Houthis and their supporters, specifically Iran, bear responsibility for escalation, unless there is a need to repel a surprise attack, the Constitution requires that the United States not engage in military action without a positive vote in Congress,” the senators said. The letter was written by Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), Todd Young (R-Indiana), and Mike Lee (R-Utah).

Congress passed the War Powers Resolution of 1973, intended to limit the president’s power to wage war and reassert his authority over foreign wars. It stipulates that the President in “every possible case” shall consult with Congress before introducing U.S. military forces into hostilities and notify Congress within 48 hours.

The Washington Post reported on Friday that a group of More than twenty members of the House of Representatives She plans to send another letter to Biden raising further concerns about how Congress needs to authorize future US strikes against the Houthis.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: The deadly attack on American forces comes as bombing escalates in the Middle East

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