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A top US general has warned that American troops in the Middle East have been narrowly escaping greater casualties due to Iran-backed militias using drones.

General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of US Central Command, expressed during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that luck played a significant role in preventing higher fatalities among US forces in recent incidents in Iraq, Syria, and Jordan. “There are several incidents where UAVs coming into a base hit another object, got caught up in netting, or other incidents where, had they hit the appropriate target that they were targeting, it would have injured or killed service members,” Kurilla said.

The backdrop of these increased hostilities is the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, which has escalated tensions across the region. Since October, following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, Iran-backed militias have intensified their offensive, launching a series of missile, rocket, and drone attacks on US positions in Iraq and Syria. General Kurilla noted, “There have been 173 attacks since October.” The situation further deteriorated with Houthi rebels in Yemen targeting maritime routes, marking a new phase of aggression that included deadly attacks on civilian mariners.

In response to these attacks, US forces have conducted retaliatory strikes against militia targets in Iraq and Syria. General Kurilla believes these actions have momentarily restored a sense of deterrence, stating, “They are deterred right now in Iraq and Syria and their support to the Iranian-aligned militia groups in terms of attacks, but necessarily in terms of funding and equipping.” Despite this assertion, Kurilla cautioned, “deterrence is always temporary,” acknowledging the ongoing challenges in maintaining security and stability in the volatile Middle East region.


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