Drone attacks on US troops in Iraq and Syria, which began to escalate noticeably in mid-October, have now inflicted a total of 56 casualties, according to a Pentagon spokesperson on 23 November. Three of that number – including two traumatic brain injuries (TBI) – stemmed from a single attack the previous day.
At least 46 attacks have been mounted against US troops in Iraq since 17 October, and 22 in Syria, according to the Pentagon. The attacks are made using an indiscriminate mix of rockets, ballistic missiles and drones, with the use of the latter seemingly proliferating rapidly. Although all the troops affected have returned to duty, symptoms of TBI can take time to manifest, thus making the reporting of adverse effect more difficult.
Not only are the attacks having an effect on US strategy – retaliatory strikes continue to be mounted against sites affiliated to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which Washington declares to be the instigator and facilitator of the attacks – but they continue to polarise public opinion and governmental resolve to protect American lives and assets. They are thus contributing to a consolidation and acceleration in efforts to procure and field effective C-UAS solutions.
(Image: Al-Asad airbase in Iraq has been a repeated target of drone attacks in recent weeks. Credit: S/Sgt Andrew Pendracki/USMC)