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Iran-Backed Attacks Are Hampering US Counter-ISIS Mission In Iraq, Watchdog Report Says

Iranian-backed militant attacks on U.S. and coalition military bases in Iraq and Syria are rapidly escalating, according to a monitoring report released on Friday, which shows Islamic State (ISIS) activity in the region is rapidly escalating. The Department of Defense's mission to contain it is being thwarted.

From October to December 2023, Iranian-backed extremists carried out at least 134 suicide drone, rocket, and missile attacks on U.S. military bases in connection with the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. according to to the latest quarterly report from the Inspector General (IG) on unique resolution operations. Units from the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF-OIR) said that while U.S. forces hunkered down in response to the attack, “militia attempted to put pressure on U.S. and coalition forces amid heightened regional tensions.” said.

Attacks in Iraq and Syria have created a “more difficult operating environment” for U.S. military missions, CJTF-OIR told the IG.

“Coalition forces needed to balance addressing immediate regional security challenges with continuing to strengthen the capabilities of local partners in the long term.68 CJTF-OIR The change in operational paradigm is primarily aimed at ensuring the safety and security of the coalition. “We are deploying troops to maintain stability in the region,” the report said. (Related: Iran-backed militia coalition says it will resume attacks on U.S. forces)

In response to the militia attack, protective measures around the base have been strengthened and the roles and deployment of personnel have changed, the task force told the IG.

In October, just days after the first attack, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered 2,000 additional U.S. troops to be deployed to the Middle East if needed. The task force also said an unspecified number of additional troops had received deployment readiness orders.

The increase in attacks has consumed resources and troops that would have supported regional partners in the fight against ISIS, the report said.

“Furthermore, CJTF-OIR said the increase in attacks has diverted resources and attention away from pursuing the OIR campaign, hampering its momentum.70 Normally devoted to providing equipment, supplies, and advisory support to partners, Resources and capabilities are mentioned in the report, again citing CJTF-OIR.

He reiterated that the special forces remain committed to the mission against ISIS.

Tensions have escalated with Iran-backed militias, some of which have ties to the Iraqi government, and with Iraq's prime minister. He threatened to permanently expel the U.S. military after the Pentagon carried out a targeted assassination of a militant leader in Baghdad.

The United States has approximately 2,500 troops in Iraq and an additional 900 troops in Syria to carry out its ongoing mission to defeat ISIS.

During the quarter, U.S. and coalition forces still captured 64 ISIS fighters and killed four from September to November, according to the report. Statistics for December were not available.

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