First Preemptive U.S. Strike Since 10/7

On December 3, the United States launched an airstrike against Iran-backed terrorists in Iraq as they prepared to launch a drone attack against U.S. forces. This was the first known use of preemptive U.S. military force to disrupt an attack before it could occur since a wave of Iran-backed assaults on U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria began last month. The U.S. strike occurred shortly after Iran-backed terrorist groups attacked U.S. forces in both Iraq and Syria on December 3. There have now been at least 76 attacks on U.S. forces in the last seven weeks—and six U.S. responses.

The resumption of Iran-backed attacks against U.S. personnel, after Tehran’s proxies in Iraq and Syria observed the pause in combat between Israel and Hamas from November 24-30, despite not being a part of the deal, indicates that the Iranian regime has not been deterred by previous U.S. strikes, even as the United States has expanded the location, rapidity, and intensity of its airstrikes. To accomplish this, the United States will need to hold the Iranian regime directly accountable for the aggression it enables by further increasing the speed, consistency, and strength of the military force it uses against the Iranian regime’s assets, personnel, and proxy forces, as well as surge air defense assets to the Middle East that can better protect U.S. personnel and regional partners.