In a significant and unexpected visit to Baghdad as part of his Middle East tour, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has issued a stern warning to Iran-backed militias responsible for a series of recent attacks on American troops stationed in Iraq and Syria.
Blinken emphasized that the United States would take all necessary measures to protect its forces in the region.
The recent surge in attacks on US troops in Iraq and Syria coincided with Israel’s military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, initiated after Hamas militants targeted Israel on October 7.
Iran-backed militias have been implicated in multiple rocket and drone attacks on US and coalition troops in these regions, with the Pentagon reporting a total of 32 attacks since October 17.
“I made very clear that attacks or threats coming from militias that are aligned with Iran are totally unacceptable, and we will take every necessary step to protect our people,” Blinken stated during his visit, according to AFP.
During Sunday’s visit, another attempted attack was thwarted when US forces successfully shot down a one-way attack drone targeting American and coalition troops near their base in Tel Baider, Syria, as confirmed by a US official to AP.
While the origin of the attack drone remains unclear, this incident underscores the ongoing security concerns faced by US and coalition military bases in the region.
So far, there have been 17 attacks in Iraq and 15 in Syria, resulting in injuries to at least 21 troops. Fortunately, all injured personnel have since returned to their duties, according to the Pentagon.
Antony Blinken’s visit was not limited to addressing security concerns. Before his arrival in Baghdad, he made an earlier visit to the occupied West Bank and emphasized the importance of placing Palestinian views, voices, and aspirations at the forefront of discussions regarding the future of Gaza.
The United States aims to prevent the escalation of a wider regional conflict and has initiated diplomatic efforts with countries in the region, seeking to address the concerns of populations affected by Israel’s military operation in Gaza.
Blinken’s arrival in Baghdad was marked by heightened security measures, including donning a bullet-proof vest and traveling by Black Hawk helicopter to the Green Zone, a symbolic reminder of the US occupation of Iraq following the 2003 invasion.
Subsequently, Secretary Blinken is set to travel to Turkey, where protests were already underway, as tensions and diplomatic efforts in the region continue to evolve.